Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Survivor annuity and health coverage

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Q. I am a CSRS employee with more than 30 years’ service and plan on retiring in a few months. What is the minimal amount I need to put on Form 2801-110 in Section F (Annuity Election), Number 2, which states, “I choose a reduced annuity with a partial survivor annuity (equal to 55% of $_____________ a year) for my spouse named in Section E”? I saw in a related question someone had asked if all they need to put here was $1 of survivor benefit for their spouse to be covered by the FEHB insurance and the answer was yes. Putting $1 in that space actually ends up being less than $1 annuity … $0.55, right? I’m guess that’s what a lot of people do, though, who are not interested in the survivor benefit. Sorry for being paranoid. I just don’t want her to lose this health insurance benefit.

A. The minimum amount you need to designate as you spouse’s survivor annuity is $1. You’ll have to do the arithmetic to decide what number you should put in the box to achieve that. However, just remember this: You are required by law to provide your spouse with a full survivor annuity unless she agrees to a lesser amount in writing and that is notarized.

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