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CSRS Information Survivors

 

Overview

Deceased Employees Covered Under CSRS

Monthly Survivor Benefits

Children

Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18, marry, or die.  Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18, if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22.

Unmarried disabled dependent children may receive recurring monthly benefits, if the disability occurred before age 18.

We consider a child dependent if he/she:

  • was born of the marriage to the retiree;
  • is an adopted child who meets all of the following conditions-
    • the child lived with the deceased retiree, and
    • the deceased filed a petition to adopt the child, and
    • the child was adopted by the surviving spouse after the retiree died.
  • Is a stepchild or recognized child born out of wedlock who was living with the retiree in a parent-child relationship when the retiree died; or
  • Is a recognized child born out of wedlock for whom a judicial determination of support has been obtained.

We consider the child dependent if there is proof that the deceased made regular and substantial contributions to the child’s support.

If Death Occurs After Leaving Federal Employment Under CSRS and Before Retirement

Under these circumstances, there are no recurring monthly benefits payable under CSRS.

Lump Sum Benefits

If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

Deceased Employees Covered Under FERS

Basic Employee Death Benefit

Children

Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18, marry, or die. Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18, if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22.

Unmarried disabled dependent children may receive recurring monthly benefits, if the disability occurred before age 18.

We consider a child dependent if he/she:

  • was born of the marriage to the retiree;
  • is an adopted child who meets all of the following conditions-
    • the child lived with the deceased retiree, and
    • the deceased filed a petition to adopt the child, and
    • the child was adopted by the surviving spouse after the retiree died.
  • Is a stepchild or recognized child born out of wedlock who was living with the retiree in a parent-child relationship when the retiree died; or
  • Is a recognized child born out of wedlock for whom a judicial determination of support has been obtained.

We consider the child dependent if there is proof that the deceased made regular and substantial contributions to the child’s support.

The combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s insurance benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased (including those of a former marriage who may not be living with the current spouse) based on the total earnings of the deceased.   In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.

Lump Sum Benefits

If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

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If Death Occurs After Leaving Federal Employment Under FERS and Before Retirement

Monthly Survivor Annuity

Children

No monthly benefits are payable to children of deceased former FERS employees if the death occurs after leaving Federal employment under FERS and before retirement.

Lump Sum Benefit

If a former employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

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Death of Employee Covered Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

Types of Benefits Payable:

Monthly Survivor Annuity is Payable

To a Child if:

  • the employee completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service, and
  • the child is an-
    • unmarried dependent child under age 18, and/or
    • unmarried dependent child from age 18 to age 22, if attending an accredited educational institution full-time, and/or
    • unmarried, disabled dependent child if the disability occurred before age 18.

Lump Sum Benefit is Payable

If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.

Payees for Lump Sum Benefits-

If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:

  • to the designated beneficiary;
  • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
  • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child;
  • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
  • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
  • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.

When Benefits Begin

    • Child
      • Your survivor annuity begins to accrue on the day after the employee’s or retiree’s death.

    Applying for Benefits

    Contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked.   You should complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 2800 (CSRS)  or SF 3104 (FERS) and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require.  Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower.   Give the application to the personnel office.  A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself/herself and on behalf of children should file one application.

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    Death of Employee Covered Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

    Types of Benefits Payable:

    Basic Employee Death Benefit is Payable

    Amount of Basic Employee Death Benefit

    • 50% of the employee’s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus
    • $15,000 increased by Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87. For deaths on or after 12/1/07, this amount is $28,093.53.  It will be updated by future CSRS cost-of-living adjustments.

    Monthly Survivor Benefit is Payable

    To a Child if:

    • the employee completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service, and
    • the child is an
      • unmarried dependent child under age 18, and/or
      • unmarried dependent child from age 18 to age 22, if attending an accredited educational institution full-time, and/or
      • unmarried, disabled dependent child if the disability (certified as such by the Social Security Administration) occurred before age 18.

    The combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of child’s insurance benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased based on the total earnings of the deceased.  In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.

    Lump Sum Benefit is Payable

    If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.

    Payees for Lump Sum Benefits

    If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:

    • to the designated beneficiary;
    • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
    • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child;
    • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
    • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
    • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.

    When Benefits Begin

    • Widow or Widower
      • your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee’s or retiree’s death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
    • Former Spouse
      • If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later:
        • The day after the employee’s or retiree’s death, or
        • The first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation.
      • If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
    • Child
      • Your survivor annuity begins to accrue on the day after the employee’s or retiree’s death.

    Applying for Benefits

    Contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked.   You should complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 3104 and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require.  Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower. Give the application to the personnel office.  If you are the surviving spouse or former spouse, you and deceased person’s employing agency should also complete Form (SF) 3104B Standard Documentation and Elections in Support of Application for Death Benefits when Deceased was an Employee at the Time of Death.

    A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself/herself and on behalf of children should file one application.

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    Death & Survivor Benefits

    When a Federal employee or retiree dies, monthly or lump sum benefits may be payable to survivors. You can learn about these Death and Survivor benefits by browsing the summaries below.

    Deceased Employees

    Explains monthly and lump sum benefits from the death of a Federal employee.

    Death of a Spouse

    Explains how to notify OPM upon the death of your spouse.

    Deceased Annuitants

    Explains monthly and lump sum benefits from the death of a retiree.

    Deceased Survivors

    If an individual receiving recurring CSRS or FERS monthly survivor annuity payments dies, the survivor annuity payments terminate on the last day of the month before the one in which the survivor died. If a surviving spouse/former spouse dies who is receiving the FERS Basic Employee Death Benefit in installments, any remaining installments will be paid as a lump sum death benefit. Contact us or use the Online Death Report Tool.

    Child Beneficiaries

    Explains the monthly benefits that may be due to children of deceased Federal employees and annuitants.

    Students

    A surviving child of a deceased Federal employee or annuitant who is between the ages of 18 and 22, and is a full-time student at a recognized educational institution may be eligible for a monthly survivor annuity benefit.

    Spouse

    Deceased Employees Covered Under CSRS

    Monthly Survivor Benefits

    Surviving Spouse

    If a CSRS employee dies, recurring monthly payments may be made to the surviving spouse if he/she completed at least 18 months of creditable service and was covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) at the time of death.

    To qualify for the monthly benefit

    • The surviving spouse must have been married to the employee for at least nine months

    If the death occurred before nine months, a survivor annuity may still be payable if

    • the employee’s death was accidental, or
    • there was a child born of the marriage.

    Former Spouse

    Recurring monthly payments may be made to the former spouse of a deceased employee under a court order.  A former spouse must also meet the nine month marriage requirement.  For additional information about court-ordered benefits, refer to the pamphlet, ‘Court-Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses’.

    If Death Occurs After Leaving Federal Employment Under CSRS and Before Retirement

    Under these circumstances, there are no recurring monthly benefits payable under CSRS.

    Lump Sum Benefits

    If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

    Deceased Employees Covered Under FERS

    Basic Employee Death Benefit

    Surviving Spouse

    If an employee dies with at least 18 months of creditable civilian service under FERS, and he/she:

    • was married to the deceased for at least nine months, or
    • If the death occurred nine months of marriage, a survivor annuity may still be payable if-
      • the employee’s death was accidental, or
      • there was a child born of the marriage to the employee.

    The spouse may be eligible for the Basic Employee Death Benefit, which is equal to 50% of the employee‘s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus $15,000 (increased by Civil Service Retirement System cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87). The $15,000 has increased to $29,722.95 for deaths on/after December 1, 2008.

    Former Spouse

    The Basic Employee Death Benefit may be payable to a former spouse (in whole or in part), if a qualifying court order is on file at OPM and the former spouse was married to the deceased for a total of at least nine months and did not remarry before reaching age 55.

    Monthly Survivor Benefits

    Surviving Spouse

    If a FERS employee dies, recurring monthly payments may be made to the surviving spouse if the deceased employee completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be civilian service)

    To qualify for the monthly benefit

    • The surviving spouse must have been married to the employee for at least nine months

    If the death occurred before nine months, a survivor annuity may still be payable if-

    • the employee’s death was accidental, or
    • there was a child born of the marriage.

    Former Spouse

    Recurring monthly payments may be made to the former spouse of a deceased employee under a court order.  A former spouse must also meet the nine month marriage requirement.  For additional information about court-ordered benefits, refer to the pamphlet, ‘Court-Ordered Benefits for Former Spouses’.

    Lump Sum Benefits

    If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

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    If Death Occurs After Leaving Federal Employement Under FERS and Before Retirement

    Monthly Survivor Annuity

    Surviving Spouse

    If a former employee who dies with at least 10 years of creditable service (5 years of which must be creditable civilian service) is survived by a spouse who was married to the deceased at the time of his/her separation from Federal civilian service AND who:

    • was married to the deceased for at least nine months, or
    • If the death occurred before nine months of marriage,
      • the employee’s death was accidental, or
      • there was a child born of the marriage to the employee;

    the spouse may be eligible for a monthly survivor benefit.  The benefit begins on the date the deceased former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity, unless the survivor chooses to have it begin at a lower rate on the day after the employee’s death.  The former employee would have been eligible for an unreduced annuity aat age 62 with a minimum of 10 years of creditable service and less than 20 years of service, at age 60 with 20 or more years of service, or at his/her Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), according to the following schedule, with 30 years of service:

    Monthly Survivor Annuity Table
    If deceased was born inHis/her MRA is
    1947 or prior 55 years
    1948 55 years, 2 months
    1949 55 years, 4 months
    1950 55 years, 6 months
    1951 55 years, 8 months
    1952 55 years, 10 months
    1953 to 1964 56 years
    1965 56 years, 2 months
    1966 56 years, 4 months
    1967 56 years, 6 months
    1968 56 years, 8 months
    1969 56 years, 10 months
    After 1969 57 years

    Instead of a survivor annuity, the eligible spouse can elect to receive a lump sum payment of the contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the retirement fund.

    Former Spouse

    The monthly survivor benefit may be paid in whole or in part to a former spouse if a qualifying court order is on file at OPM.

    Lump Sum Benefit

    If a former employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.  This lump sum is payable under the order of precedence.

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    Death of Employee covered Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

    Types of Benefits Payable

    Monthly Survivor Annuity is Payable

    To the Current Spouse if:

    • the employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service,
    • the employee who died was covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) when he/she died, and
    • the current spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).

    If a court order awards part of the total survivor annuity to a former spouse, the current spouse will receive the remainder.  If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, the current spouse may begin to receive the full annuity.

    If the employee’s death was job-related, workers’ compensation benefits may be payable.

    To a Former Spouse if:

    • specified under a qualifying court order,
    • the employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service,
    • the former spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months, and
    • the former spouse did not remarry before reaching age 55 (unless he/she was married to the deceased for at least 30 years).

    Lump Sum Benefit is Payable

    If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.

    Payees for Lump Sum Benefits

    If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:

    • to the designated beneficiary;
    • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
    • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child;
    • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
    • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
    • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.

    When Benefits Begin

    • Widow or Widower
      • your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee’s or retiree’s death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
    • Former Spouse
      • If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later:
        • The day after the employee’s or retiree’s death, or
        • The first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation.
        • If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefit

    Applying for Benefits

    Contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked.   You should complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 2800 (CSRS)  or SF 3104 (FERS) and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require.  Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower.   Give the application to the personnel office.  A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself/herself and on behalf of children should file one application.

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    Death of Employee Covered Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)

    Types of Benefits Payable

    Basic Employee Death Benefit is Payable

    To the Current Spouse if:

    • The employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service
    • the employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • the current spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).

    To a Former Spouse if:

    • a qualifying court order is on file at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM),
    • the former spouse was married to the deceased for a total period of at least nine months, and
    • the former spouse did not remarry before reaching age 55 (unless he/she was married to the deceased for at least 30 years).

    Amount of Basic Employee Death Benefit

    • 50% of the employee’s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus
    • $15,000 increased by Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87. For deaths on or after 12/1/07, this amount is $28,093.53.  It will be updated by future CSRS cost-of-living adjustments.

    Monthly Survivor Benefit is Payable

    To the Current Spouse if:

    • the employee who died completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be creditable civilian service),
    • the employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    • the current spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of the marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).

    If a court order awards part of the total survivor annuity to a former spouse, the current spouse will receive the remainder.  If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, the current spouse may begin to receive the full annuity.

    If the employee’s death was job-related, workers’ compensation benefits may be payable.

    To a Former Spouse if

    • specified under a qualifying court order,
    • the employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service,
    • the former spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months, and
    • the former spouse did not remarry before reaching age 55 (unless he/she was married to the deceased for at least 30 years).

    Lump Sum Benefit is Payable

    If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.

    Payees for Lump Sum Benefits

    If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:

    • to the designated beneficiary;
    • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
    • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child;
    • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
    • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
    • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.

    When Benefits Begin

    • Widow or Widower
      • your survivor annuity begins on the day after the employee’s or retiree’s death. If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because a former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.
    • Former Spouse
      • If you are a former spouse who was awarded a survivor annuity based on a court order, your survivor annuity begins to accrue on whichever day is later:
        • The day after the employee’s or retiree’s death, or
        • The first day of the second month after we receive a certified copy of the court order along with any additional necessary supporting documentation.
      • If you are eligible for benefits and we are unable to pay you because another former spouse is entitled, your annuity would begin the day after the former spouse loses entitlement to benefits.

    Applying for Benefits

    Contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked.   You should complete the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form (SF) 3104 and attach any other forms and/or evidence as the application or circumstances require.  Attach a copy of the employee’s death certificate and a copy of the certificate of the marriage to the widow or widower. Give the application to the personnel office.  If you are the surviving spouse or former spouse, you and deceased person’s employing agency should also complete Form (SF) 3104B Standard Documentation and Elections in Support of Application for Death Benefits when Deceased was an Employee at the Time of Death.

    A widow or widower who is claiming benefits for himself/herself and on behalf of children should file one application.

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    Child Beneficiaries

    Benefits Payable to Children of Deceased CSRS/FERS Employees/Annuitants

    FERS/CSRS survivor benefits to eligible children are automatically provided by law. An annuitant does not have to elect these benefits at retirement.  There is no reduction in your annuity to provide this benefit.

    Length of Payment of Child Benefits

    Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee/annuitant may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18, marry, or die.  Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18, if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22.

    Unmarried disabled dependent children who are incapable of self-support may receive recurring monthly benefits, if the disability occurred before age 18.   The benefits will continue as long as the condition continues and the child does not become capable of self-support.

    Benefits to any child end upon the child’s marriage.

    Continuing Benefits for Children After Age 18

    A child can continue to receive benefits after reaching age 18 if he or she is incapable of self-support because of a disability which began before age 18.  If the disabled child is under age 18 when you apply for benefits, we do not need additional information.  However, when the child is within three months of reaching age 18 or over age 18, you should send us the information described in disabling conditions for children.

    A child can also continue to receive benefits until age 22 if he or she is a full time student.  If the child is listed on the application for benefits as a full-time student who is age 18 or more, we will send a request for certification of school attendance to be completed by the person who expects to receive payments and the school.  Annuity payments continue between school years unless the break is more than five months or the student does not return to school on a full-time basis. 

    Disabling Conditions for Children

    Monthly survivor annuity payments can continue if a child is incapable of self-support due to a physical or mental disability which began before age 18.  If you have a disabled child who receives benefits as a minor, you should send a letter asking us to continue benefits after the child reaches 18 because of incapacity for self-support.  You should send the letter about 90 days before your child reaches age 18.

    You should include a doctor’s statement that includes the child’s name, the CSF survivor claim number, a full report of the disability, including the date it started, the degree of impairment, and probable length of the disability.   The statement should cover a brief educational and employment history, if any, and provide the name, address, telephone number, and signature of the physician.

    Monthly survivor benefits to a disabled dependent stop when the disabled child recovers from the disability, becomes capable of self-support, marries, or dies.

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    Full-Time Students

    Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18 if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22.

    To be considered a full-time student, high schools, trade schools, and vocational schools generally require 25 or more actual clock hours of classroom attendance each week.  Colleges and universities generally require enrollment for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time.  There are no payments available for part-time school attendance.

    A recognized school is one that has a faculty and requires study to be done at the school. High schools must be licensed by the state.  All other schools must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

    We do not recognize correspondence schools, elementary schools, home schools, Job Corps, U.S. military service academies such as the U.S. Naval Academy, or any training programs where the trainee receives pay primarily as an employee.

    Determination of Dependence

    We consider the child dependent if there is proof that the deceased made regular and substantial contributions to the child’s support.  We consider a child dependent if he or she:

    • was born of the marriage to the retiree;
    • was adopted by the deceased prior to his/her death;
    • is an adopted child who meets all of the following conditions-
      • the child lived with the deceased retiree, and
      • a petition was filed by the deceased to adopt the child, and
      • the child was adopted by the surviving spouse before/after the retiree died;
    • is a stepchild or recognized child born out of wedlock who was living with the retiree in a parent/child relationship when the retiree died; or
    • is a recognized child born out of wedlock for whom a judicial determination of support has been obtained.

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    Receipt of Social Security Benefits Affects FERS Benefits Payable to Children of Deceased FERS Employees/Retirees

    The combined benefit payable for all eligible children is reduced by the total monthly amount of the children's Social Security  Insurance benefits that are payable (or would be payable upon proper application).   Benefits payable under Title II of the Social Security Act for all children of the deceased (including those of a former marriage who may not be living with the current spouse) are based on the total earnings of the deceased. In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0.

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    Computation of Children’s Benefits

    The children’s survivor benefit is a specific dollar amount established by a formula in the governing United States Code and is increased by cost-of-living-adjustments. Below are the rates a child would receive if the death of the parent occurred in 2014. For a child on the annuity roll prior to 2014, we will apply the 2013 COLA rate to the child’s current annuity. Each child’s rate is determined individually based on the circumstances described below.

    When the child has a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:

    $502 per month per child; or
    $1,506 per month divided by the number of eligible children.

    When the child does not have a living parent who was married to the employee or retiree, the benefit payable to the child is the lesser of:

    $602 per month per child; or
    $1,807 per month divided by the number of eligible children.

    These rates are payable from December 1, 2013, through November 30, 2014. They will be increased by future cost-of-living adjustments.

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    Students Ages 18-22

    A surviving child who meets the Basic Eligibility Requirements as defined in the pamphlet Survivor Benefits for Children and is between the ages of 18 and 22, and is a full-time student at a recognized educational institution may be eligible for a monthly survivor annuity benefit.

    If a person who meets these requirements is listed on the Application for Death Benefits, Standard Form 2800 we will send an Initial Certification of Full-Time School Attendance, RI 25-41. This form is completed by the person who expects to receive the payments and by the school.  If a child under 18 receives annuity benefits, as the 18th birthday approaches, we notify the parent, guardian, or other payee of the date the annuity will stop and explain how to continue benefits for a son or daughter who is a qualified student.   

    Self-Certification Website

    Students can also self-certify their full-time school attendance online at our Self-Certification of Full-Time School Attendance website.

    Eligibility

    A recognized educational institution is a school that has a faculty and requires study or training to be done at the school, and is accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Examples include:

    • high schools
    • technical or vocational institutes
    • business schools
    • colleges
    • junior or community colleges
    • universities

    Student benefits are not payable to students enrolled in correspondence courses, distance learning, “online” courses, Job Corps, elementary schools, United States military service academies, or any training programs, such as apprenticeship programs, where the trainee receives pay primarily as an employee.

    The student must be attending day or evening classes at the school, with enough course work each semester or term to finish his or her education within the length of time generally considered normal by the school for a full-time day student.  Full-time students must have a sufficient subject load to allow them to graduate within the minimum time which is considered normal for a full-time student of the school.

    High schools generally require 25 to 35 actual clock hours of class attendance each week to consider a student as full-time.  For special programs, they generally require a minimum of 20 hours per week.  Colleges, junior or community colleges, and universities generally require a minimum of 12 semester or quarter credit hours to graduate in the normal length of time.  For tuition purposes, a student carrying fewer credit hours may be designated as full-time.  Being designated full-time for tuition purposes does not necessarily establish eligibility for adult student benefits.  Vocational or technical schools generally require that students make this schooling their principal activity.  This means that the student spends as much as 40 clock hours each week in activities related directly to training in the school.  Normally, the activities take place at the school.

    Work Study Programs

    Acceptable work-study programs generally require some regularly scheduled class attendance; together, the class attendance and the work periods constitute a full-time course of training.  High school work-study programs are considered full-time if the school gives the student credit for successfully completing the work-study program.  Generally, cooperative programs are not full-time academic course work.  However, if the student receives full-time academic credit in a cooperative program and is not receiving pay primarily as an employee, the student may qualify for a monthly annuity.

    Continued Eligibility

    OPM may request periodic certification from you that the student continues to meet the eligibility requirements. OPM may also request at any time that you provide proof of the school enrollment.

    Annuity benefits continue between school years unless the break is longer than 5 months or the student does not continue full-time school attendance.  You must notify us immediately if there is a break of more than 5 months between school years or the student does not plan to continue full-time school attendance.  Any benefits erroneously continued during the break must be repaid by the recipient.

    A son or daughter whose annuity benefits as an adult student stopped because he or she is no longer a full-time student at a recognized school could qualify for benefits again before reaching age 22.  In such a case, please request reinstatement of the annuity. Call our toll-free number 1-888-767-6738 or write to:

    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
    Retirement Surveys & Students Branch
    1900 E Street; NW;
    Washington, DC 20415-3563

    Be sure to provide the child’s full name, the survivor annuity claim number (CSF number), and the full name of the deceased Federal employee or retiree.

    Discontinuation of Student Benefits

    Annuity benefits stop for the student at the end of the month before he/she:

    • turns 22 (however, if the 22nd birthday falls on or after September 1 and before the following July 1, payments continue to the end of the month preceding the one in which full-time schooling stops or to June 30, whichever comes first);
    • marries;
    • dies;
    • stops attending school;
    • transfers to a non recognized school;
    • changes to less than full-time school attendance;
    • enters military service or a U.S. military service academy (such as the U.S. Naval Academy); or
    • fails to submit proof that he or she is attending school full-time when we request it.

    If the student’s 22nd birthday occurs on or after September 1 and before July 1 of the following year and the death of the employee/annuitant occurs during the same period, the student may be eligible for a monthly annuity.

    Notify us immediately if any of the events listed above occurs.  If benefits are paid after one of these events, the person who received the payment may be indebted to the Civil Service Retirement System, and repayment will be required. 

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    No Beneficiary

    Designation of Beneficiaries

    There are two types of designations of beneficiary that apply to retirees:

    • Designations for Life Insurance benefits under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program, and
    • Designations for any lump sum benefit payable upon your death.

    Designations for Lump Sum Benefit Payable Upon Your Death

    You can choose any person to receive any lump sum benefit payable upon your death by completing a Designation of Beneficiary form. Lump sum death payments include:

    • Any amount by which your contributions to the retirement fund, plus any interest due, exceed the total amount of the annuity we paid you and all other eligible survivors (unexpended balance), or
    • Any annuity we owe you at the time of your death.

    We pay an unexpended balance only after there is no longer a survivor entitled to a monthly payment.

    If You Do Not Have Designation of Beneficiary on File

    If you do not have a Designation of Beneficiary on file, we will pay the first person(s) listed below who is alive on the date the payment becomes due:

    • Your widow or widower,
    • Your child or children (descendants of a deceased child may qualify),
    • Your parents in equal shares or all to the surviving parent,
    • The administrator or executor of your estate, or
    • If none of the above, your next of kin as determined under the laws of the State in which you live.

    If you are satisfied with the payment order shown above, there is no need for you to have a Designation of Beneficiary.

    Keep Your Designation of Beneficiary up to Date

    Remember that unless you change or cancel your designation, the person named-such as a former spouse-will receive the lump sum benefit.

    You also need to keep your designated beneficiaries’ addresses current.   Failure to do so may mean that your beneficiary cannot be located and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person.  The preferred way is to file a new Designation of Beneficiary when a beneficiary’s address changes.  A new address cannot be added directly to the Designation of Beneficiary form itself, since any cross outs, erasures, or alterations in your form may make it invalid.

    Designation of Beneficiary Forms

    For Life Insurance Benefits

    • Use SF 2823, Designation of Beneficiary/Federal Employees Group Life Insurance

    For Lump Sum at Death

    • If you retired under FERS, use SF 3102, Designation of Beneficiary/FERS.
    • If you retired under CSRS, use SF 2808, Designation of Beneficiary/CSRS.

    After you complete and return the designation form in duplicate to OPM, we will certify it and return the duplicate copy to you.

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