Q:

What federal retirement benefits are there for a surviving spouse?

A:

Quick Answer

Surviving spouses are entitled to federal retirement benefits if they meet the eligibility requirements under the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System, reports the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Additionally, survivor benefits are available to spouses under the Social Security system, states Social Security Administration.

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Full Answer

Employees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System pass on benefits if they were married to their spouses for at least nine months, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Spouses married for less than nine months may still be covered if the employee's death was accidental or the couple had a child. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System, if the employee worked while covered for at least 18 months, the spouse may be eligible for the Basic Employee Death Benefit lump sum payment.

If the employee worked while covered for at least 10 years, the spouse may be eligible for recurring monthly benefit payments, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Under the Civil Service Retirement System, if the employee worked while covered for at least 18 months, the spouse may be eligible for recurring monthly payments, and if not, the spouse receives whatever remains in the retirement account with interest as a lump sum.

Widows or widowers receive 100 percent of Social Security benefits based on the earnings of the deceased spouse if they wait until full retirement age to begin collecting them, reports the Social Security Administration. Monthly amounts are reduced if spouses begin benefit payments early.

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