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What Your Survivors Should Know About Your Federal Benefits

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If you have a spouse or other loved ones that are dependent on you, you should make sure that they are provided for upon your death. More importantly, you must make sure that the information is made available to them. During this period, its very difficult for people to focus, so the more you can do now, the better it will be for your loved ones. This article will help you organize information regarding the following Federal Benefits: Annuity , Health Benefits , Federal Employees Life Insurance , Thrift Savings Plan and Veterans Benefits. By organizing this information, your survivors will have the information they need to handle your affairs upon your death.

Print a copy of this article and keep it with your retirement paperwork and forward this article to others in your organization that will benefit from this information.

How to Report a Death

Survivors, family, or estate representatives are required to notify OPM immediately in the event of the benefit recipients death. To report a death of a retiree or person receiving benefits from the Office of Personnel Management your survivor/representative must:

  • Contact OPM online: Report a Death,
  • Email OPM at: retire@opm.gov
  • Call OPM at: 1-88USOPMRET 1 767-6738 or TTY: 1 887-4957.The hours of operation are 7:30 A.M. until 7:45 P.M . or
  • Write to OPM at:

U.S. Office of Personnel ManagementRetirement Services Program

When the death is reported, the following information must be provided to OPM:

How To Apply for Benefits

If You Die As A Deferred Member

If you die after working at least ten years for the state but before you’re old enough to draw your pension, a monthly survivor pension will be payable to your beneficiary as of the month following the month you would have attained age 60.

When you leave state service, your human resource office will have you complete a Deferred Service Retirement Beneficiary Designation form. You can name your spouse, child, parent, sibling, or grandchild as the beneficiary for your pension. If you have not designated a beneficiary, the monthly benefit is paid to your surviving spouse. If you have no surviving spouse, it is split among your children under the age of 18. If you have no surviving spouse or children under 18, no continuing monthly benefit will be payable unless ORS has your beneficiary designation on file. You can change the beneficiary at any time while you are in deferred status, using the same form.

If you die after leaving state employment and before you are vested, no survivor pension is payable. However, your beneficiary/survivors should still contact ORS to see if there are any personal contribution funds on account.

State Employees’ Pension Plan

CONTRIBUTIONS:

If you die leaving no eligible survivors, your beneficiary will be paid a lump sum equal to the excess, if any, of your accumulated contributions with interest less all pension payments made, including survivor’s benefits. You may designate a beneficiary by completing an Contributory Designation / Change of Beneficiary form. If there is no designated beneficiary, the sum will be paid to your estate.

POST-RETIREMENT BURIAL BENEFIT:

At the beginning of your retirement, you will be / were asked to complete a Burial Benefit Designation/Change of Beneficiary form to designate a beneficiary to receive a burial benefit payment of $7,000. This is not a life insurance policy. It has no policy number and no cash value during your lifetime. This sum will be payable to the designated beneficiary upon your death.

Please be aware that that this is a taxable benefit to whomever you name as beneficiary.

If you have named a beneficiary only so that person can use the burial benefit monies to pay funeral expenses, please be aware the release of these monies will create a taxable event for that person.

If it is your intention for the burial benefit to be used to pay for your funeral expenses, you have the option to name the funeral home as the beneficiary.

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What Our Clients Say

“Weve very much appreciated the partnership we have with HJ Group. As our benefits broker and administrator, they have been very attentive and responsive to our questions and needs. They check in quarterly to ensure things are running smoothly and are much more relational than our previous broker. They were also able to help us negotiate lower premiums based use the use of the plan. Additional HR related resources are an added bonus. They have provided great customer service and wed be happy to recommend them.”

Cynthia Yoon – Director of Administration – The Bridge Markham

“Since taking over as our businesss Group Benefits Insurance Broker, HJ Group has exceeded our expectations with the level of service provided. They are consistently fast at responding and providing informative, yet, candid advice. We feel confident that they are representing our interests when negotiating with the insurance companies over our rates and not just rolling-over for a commission. We would highly recommend HJ Group to any business that is looking for a new Group Benefits Insurance Broker or even a second opinion on their current group benefits plan.”

Keith A. Nichols – Nichols Law Professional Corporation

Sharon Sparks – Manager – Toronto Heart Centre

Kent Andrews – Executive Pastor The Olive Branch Community Church

Catherine Callaghan CPA, CGA

Warren Greig – President – Greig Security Services

Can My Former Spouse Continue Health Insurance Coverage

Benefits available in the case of death of a Central Government ...

Yes, but not under your family enrollment. There are two possible options for your former spouse to remain enrolled. First, all former spouses are eligible for a Temporary Continuation of Coverage enrollment that lasts for 36 months. Second, former spouses eligible for a monthly court-ordered benefit are eligible for former spouse federal health insurance.

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How To Get Help

Thinking about death is difficult, but its crucial to plan for your familys wellbeing. If youre a federal employee with questions about your benefits, please reach out. Were financial planning experts with deep knowledge of the FERS system, and can help you with anything from designating your beneficiaries to helping you choose the right insurance coverages for your financial situation.

If you are a surviving spouse of a federal employee, were here for you, too. This Survivors Planning Checklist will help you stay organized as you complete all the necessary paperwork. If you need additional help navigating the complex federal benefits system, get in touch today. We can help you make sure you understand what youre entitled to and help you through this difficult time.

Can I Get Benefits If I’m The Surviving Spouse Of A Deceased Retiree

Maybe. You could get a monthly payment if your spouse elected a reduced annuity to provide the benefit. To qualify for the monthly benefit, you must have been married to the retiree for at least 9 months. A survivor annuity may still be payable if the retiree’s death occurred before 9 months if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the retiree.

A court order awarding a former spouse a survivor annuity may prevent us from paying you the portion of the annuity awarded under the court order. However, if otherwise eligible, you can receive the complete annuity if the former spouse loses eligibility for benefits.

If no survivor annuity is payable upon the retiree’s death, any remaining portion, representing either the remaining annuity and/or retirement contributions not paid to the retiree, is payable to the person eligible under the order of precedence.

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Continuation Of Monthly Benefits Under Survivor Options

When you choose benefit your payment option, if you choose one of the survivor options , your survivor beneficiary will receive a monthly lifetime benefit after your death.

NOTE: During the month a retiree or beneficiary dies, the legal representative of the deceased retiree or beneficiary is entitled to a full check for the month the death occurred. It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor for a person to fraudulently receive the retirement benefit of a deceased retiree or beneficiary after the recipients death.

If you die within 180 days of your last day of service, and meet all eligibility requirements, the lump-sum death benefit for active employees described below will be payable.

How Is The Amount Of My Benefit As A Former Spouse Determined

Your Federal Retirement Annuity for CSRS and FERS

A monthly survivor annuity may be payable to a former spouse after the death of the employee or annuitant if it is provided by a court order or the annuitant’s election.

If the survivor annuity is based on an annuitant’s election, the amount is determined in the same way as the amount due to a current surviving spouse. However, if the employee has remarried, then this election can only be made if the current spouse consents to it.

The amount of a court-ordered survivor annuity is based on the court order. A court order may provide the maximum survivor annuity, a lesser amount, or a fraction of the maximum survivor annuity.

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How Do I Plan To Provide Benefits To My Survivors After My Death

Your agency’s HR office will review the election opportunities with you to provide benefits after your death to your husband or wife, ex-spouse, or another person you designate as having an insurable interest in your continuing life. If you don’t elect to provide for a monthly benefit after your death, your survivor won’t be able to continue coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. You HR advisor will also cover the requirements that each survivor must meet to qualify.

When making an election to provide a benefit after your death, you must obtain your husband’s or wife’s written consent to provide less than the maximum benefit allowed. To designate an insurable interest, you must have a physical examination at your own expense.

Your agency’s HR office is the best place to start. They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records.

Help For Your Survivors

John R. Smith, Director

This column regularly covers topics important to current and future retirees and their families. Usually the topics are related to retirement itself, but this article is intended to help your survivors smoothly handle your affairs when you no longer are around.

Many phone calls to the APWU Retirees Department are from people lacking basic information about recently deceased family members. Will your survivors know all about your life and health insurance benefits? Could they easily find the records of your checking and savings accounts, bonds, stocks, and cars? Will they understand your pension and annuity survivor benefits?

I suggest that you write down as much basic information as you can, and share it in a concise form with your family or a friend . Let them know where you keep your will, and keep all the other information with it.

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Who Is Entitled To Survivor Benefits

If you are married or have lived in a conjugal relationship your spouse may be entitled to a survivor benefit.

The claimant must have been married to you at the time of your death, or, if common-law, prove that he or she lived with you in a conjugal relationship for at least one year before your death. The relationship must have started before you left the public service and have continued up to the time of your death.

If you die within one year of marriage, no survivor benefit is payable unless there is satisfactory proof that your health at the time of marriage was such that you expected to survive for at least one year.

For your common-law survivor to receive benefits under the public service pension plan, he or she must be prepared to provide documented proof that a relationship of a conjugal nature actually existed. This proof normally takes the form of statutory declarations from disinterested persons who attest to the relationship, along with bills or receipts, mortgage papers, leases, joint bank accounts, credit accounts or any other relevant documents.

If you have both a legal spouse and another eligible survivor with whom you have lived in a conjugal relationship, the survivors benefit will be apportioned between them. Each survivors share of the benefit will be based on length of cohabitation with you.

How Do I Provide A Survivor Benefit For My New Spouse

National Federation of Postal Employees: May 2013

If you get married after retirement, you can elect a reduced annuity to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. You must make this election within 2 years of the date of your marriage.

Under the Civil Service Retirement System , you can elect any portion of your annuity as a basis for the survivor benefit payable in the event of your death.

Under the Federal Employees Retirement System , a full benefit is 50 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity and a partial benefit is 25 percent of your unreduced annual basic annuity.

If you remarry the same person to whom you were married at retirement, you cannot elect a survivor annuity greater than the one you elected at retirement.

A post-retirement marriage will result in two reductions in your annuity if you elect to provide the survivor benefit. One will be the reduction to provide the survivor benefit. The first reduction depends on the amount you elect for the survivor annuity.

Your annuity is also reduced by a permanent actuarial reduction equal to the difference between the new annuity rate with the survivor benefit and the old one without the survivor benefit since your retirement, plus 6 percent interest. In most cases, the actuarial reduction amount is less than 5 percent of your annuity. The actuarial reduction continues even if the marriage ends.

When you contact us, we’ll send you a statement describing the cost of the election and ask you to confirm your election.

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How Do My Survivors Apply For Benefits

The appropriate application for death benefits under the CSRS or FERS must be filed with an original signature to OPM. Your survivor should include the following relevant documents with the application:

  • A certified copy of the death certificate
  • If not already on file, a copy of your marriage certificate
  • Copies of birth certificates of eligible children
  • A certified copy of any divorce decree, and property settlement agreement, that occurred on or after May 7, 1985

Optional $10000 Contributory Death Benefit

When you retire, we will mail you a Form 333 . To enroll, you must make your election within 60 days of the effective date of your retirement. If you enrolled in the optional $10,000 Contributory Death Benefit for Retired Members and your death occurs on or after the first day of the month following the 24th month of coverage, a lump-sum payment of $10,000 will be paid to your designated beneficiary. If no beneficiary has been designated, the benefit will be paid to your spouse, or legal representative if you are not survived by a spouse. If your death occurs before the first day of the month following the 24th month of coverage, the amount payable will be equal to your premiums plus interest.

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Retirement Benefits For Survivors Of Federal Employees

For detailed information on retirement benefits for survivors of federal employees visit the Office of Personnel Managements Website

The Office of Personnel Management administers both the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System . These systems only cover full-time employees. An eligible survivor of a Federal civilian employee killed in the line of duty may qualify for a recurring CSRS or FERS monthly survivor annuity.

In most cases, workers compensation benefits and Federal retirement benefits cannot be paid for the same period of time. This means that the survivor must choose between the two benefits. In most cases, the primary benefits are paid by the Department of Labor.

If the survivor chooses benefits from the Department of Labor , the survivor will receive a lump sum payment of the employees retirement contribution under CSRS or FERS.

Under both systems, a qualifying survivor is:

  • A former spouse if a qualifying court order is on file at OPM
  • An unmarried child under age 18
  • An unmarried child between the ages of 18 and 22, if attending an accredited educational institution full-time.
  • An unmarried, disabled dependent child, regardless of age, if the disability occurred before age 18

Surviving Spouse

To qualify for a survivor annuity, spouse must have been married at least nine months. That requirement does not apply if there is a child born of the marriage or the death was accidental.

Former Spouse

The Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund

Veteran Death Benefits- Learn what exactly is available from a funeral director

If you belong to a defined benefit pension plan and your employer becomes insolvent or bankrupt, there may not be enough money in the pension fund to pay all of the pension benefits that were promised to you. The Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund may then apply to guarantee payment of certain benefits from your pension plan.

The PBGF is a special fund that was established by the Government of Ontario to cover pension benefits for certain defined benefit pension plans if they are wound up, because the employer is insolvent and there is a funding shortage.

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Survivors Benefit For Retired New York State Employees

The Survivors Benefit Program provides a death benefit to the beneficiaries of eligible retired New York State employees. For most retirees, the amount is $3,000. Read our brochure, The Survivors Benefit Program for Retired New York State Employees, for information about eligibility requirements.

Your beneficiary for this benefit is tied to your pension payment option. If you chose a pension payment option that leaves a benefit to a beneficiary, then your survivors benefit will also go to that beneficiary.

If you chose the Single Life Allowance, or if you chose a joint allowance but your beneficiary has died, you can change your survivors benefit beneficiary by sending us a completed Pensioners Designation of Beneficiaries form.

Rev. 2/22

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