Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Survivor benefits

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Q. I am a retired federal employee who retired in 2002 under CSRS. I am 80 and single. If I marry a lady who is 70, how much will be taken from my retired pay, and how much will she receive when I pass away?

A. To answer the second half of your question first, she would receive the amount you elected, not to exceed 55 percent of the amount of your unreduced annuity. Now to the first half. While I can’t tell you how much your annuity would be reduced, I can tell you the mechanism used. There would be two reductions in your annuity. One would be the standard reduction to provide the survivor benefit. The amount depends on whether you are providing a full or a partial survivor annuity. The other reduction would be a permanent actuarial reduction to pay the survivor benefit deposit, which equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to you for each month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest. That reduction is determined by dividing the amount of the deposit by an actuarial factor for your age on the date your annuity is reduced to provide for the survivor benefit. The only way to find out the cost would be to apply for a survivor annuity, review the figures and then make up your mind.

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