It is well known that federal employment offers many valuable benefits. Chief among these benefits is the generous federal retirement package.
The retirement program in the federal government is the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which Congress created in 1986.
In addition to retirement benefits, FERS features survivor death benefits in some cases.
Specifically, FERS survivor benefits grant a certain percentage of a deceased federal employee’s annual benefit amount to a current or former spouse.
This article will discuss the key details of federal retirement survivor benefits, but it is always a good idea to reach out to a qualified federal employment attorney for additional information.
How Many Types of FERS Survivor Benefits Are Available?
The recipient of a deceased federal employee can receive three kinds of benefits. The first type is the current spouse survivor annuity.
As the name implies, this benefit is payable only to the person who was the current spouse of the federal employee at the time of the employee’s death.
The second kind of benefit is an annuity for former spouses. The former spouse annuity can arise when the deceased employee voluntarily chose to establish it before their death.
Alternatively, courts can also award annuities to former spouses through a divorce decree, provided it was granted after May 7, 1985. The third and final type of benefit is a one-time lump sum benefit.
These three FERS survivor benefits are available only if the employee died while employed with the federal government.
How Much Can a Current or Former Spouse Receive in FERS Survivor Benefits?
As with many other aspects of federal benefits, the amount varies widely. The maximum payable survivor benefit amount is equal to 50% of the federal employee’s unreduced annual benefit.
The federal employee’s annual benefit will depend on the deceased employee’s time in government service, age, and pay level.
The federal employee has a large role in deciding how much their survivor benefits are, even to the point of deciding the spouse receives no survivor benefit.
They can also elect for the spouse to have a partially reduced annuity or a fully reduced annuity.
How Long Do FERS Survivor Benefits Last?
Surviving spouse annuities (whether to former or current spouses) continue for the life of the spouse unless the spouse remarries before they reach age 55.
There is an exception to this rule, however, if the spouse and employee were married for over 30 years. In that case, the spouse of the deceased employee will receive annuity payments regardless of whether they remarry or not.
Curious to Learn More About FERS Survivor Benefits?
It is very difficult it is to lose a spouse. We understand that sorting out financial matters is probably the last thing you want to deal with when your spouse passes away.
On top of that, the world of federal retirement survivor benefits is often difficult to navigate on your own. If your deceased spouse was a federal employee, we can help ensure that you obtain the benefits that they intended you to have.
Here at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting with all kinds of federal employment matters.
We care about all of our clients, and we are passionate about ensuring that they obtain the compensation they deserve.
We have many years of experience successfully helping our clients—as our client reviews show. Together, we can work with you to help maximize your FERS survivor benefits.
Many people wrongly believe that hiring an attorney will cost them a small fortune. However, we don’t want money problems to prevent people from reaching out and consulting us.
That’s why all of our initial consultations are free. Don’t lose out on obtaining the federal retirement benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact us today.