CSRS: Survivor Benefits Elections at Retirement

Married CSRS employees*  may elect these survivor benefits options at retirement:

Current Spouse

  • Full survivor annuity for current spouse (55% of full annuity).
  • Less than full or no survivor annuity with consent of spouse (55% of selected base up to the full annuity amount).
  • "Insurable Interest" survivor annuity for current spouse if a survivor annuity has been awarded by a qualifying court order to a former spouse, or to provide for someone else.
  • Combination current/former spouse annuity with consent of current spouse.

* Survivors are eligible to receive an annuity if they have been married at least 9 months, are the natural parent of your child, or death was accidental.

Former Spouse

  • To provide a former spouse a survivor annuity, you must have been ordered by the court or elect former spouse benefits, and
  • Have been married at least 9 months,
  • Have performed at least 18 months of creditable service

A former spouse is defined as a person whose marriage was terminated to an employee on or after May 7, 1985, or who was a spouse of a retiree who retired on or after May 7, 1985, regardless of the date of termination of marriage.  The annuity is computed in the same way as a current spouse survivor annuity.  OPM must receive a certified copy of your court order, showing original seal or stamp of the court. 

Unmarried CSRS employees may elect these survivor benefits options at retirement:

  • No survivor benefit
  • "Insurable interest" survivor annuity
  • Full or partial survivor annuity for former spouse
  • Combination insurable interest/former spouse survivor annuity

Note:  If you marry after retirement, you may elect, within 2 years after the marriage, a reduced annuity to provide a current spouse benefit.  The reduction in your annuity is effective no earlier than the first of the month beginning 9 months after the date of marriage.  The premiums paid are retroactive to your date of retirement.  This deposit is paid by a permanent actuarial reduction.