Survivor Options for Married Federal Spouses
by June Kirby
When thinking about Federal Employees‘ Retirement System survivor’s benefits (SSB), many people will oftentimes refer to the survivor annuity. However, the truth is that there are really a number of possible survivor benefits that you can choose from within the FERS system.
In fact, there are a variety of options that may be opted, depending on your specific situation. These may include the following:
- Federal Employees’ Retirement System Survivor Annuity or Pension
- Federal Employees’ Health Insurance
- FEGLI Life Insurance
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
- Social Security income
In many instances, the FERS Survivor Annuity or Pension is chosen. With this option, when the Federal employee passes away, his or her survivor will continue receiving a portion of that person’s pension each month.
Within this particular plan, there are several different choices that you can make for your survivor. These include:
- A full Federal Employees’ Retirement System Survivor Annuity
- A reduced Federal Employees’ Retirement System Survivor Annuity
- No Survivor Annuity
With the full FERS Survivor Annuity option, your survivor will receive 50 percent of your pension amount. If, however, you opt for the reduced FERS Survivor Annuity option, your survivor will receive 25 percent of your pension amount. (It is important to note that if you are married and you choose an option other than the full survivor annuity, you will need to obtain your spouse’s written permission).
Depending on which of the options that you choose, there can also be a cost. For example, by choosing to have your survivor receive 50 percent of your pension after you pass away, it will “cost” 10 percent of your monthly pension. In other words, 10 percent of your monthly pension will be deducted from your pension each month until the time that you pass away. Likewise, should you choose your survivor to receive the lesser amount of your pension as their survivor benefit, it will cost 5 percent of your pension amount.
Other Survivor Alternatives
In lieu of having your survivor receive a portion of your retirement pension, there are other potential options. For example, if you feel that your survivor will not need the money, you could alternatively purchase a permanent life insurance policy and name your survivor as the beneficiary.
In doing so, the proceeds from the policy will go income tax free to the named beneficiary of your choosing. In most cases, these funds will also typically bypass the potentially costly and time consuming process of probate.
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About June Kirby
June Kirby has well over a decade of experience serving as a Federal Employee Retirement Trainer and expert. June Kirby has extensive knowledge in both TSP and other Federal Retirement benefits. Ms. Kirby tirelessly travels the Country making herself available to Federal & Postal Employees, Federal Agencies, Unions and Organizations and partners with PSREducators.com (PSRE), and as one of the top providers of PSRE’s services, June Kirby continues to generously make herself available to hundreds of deserving Federal and Postal Employees each and every year by offering consultation on federal retirement benefits and TSP maximization strategies.