Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Insurable interest survivor annuity

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Q. I retired from federal service on June 30 at age 60 with 28 years and three months of service. My retirement application elected to provide an insurable interest survivor annuity for my younger sister at a 10 percent reduction in my retirement annuity. The HR personnel at my agency had me obtain a letter from my primary care physician stating that I was in generally good health for inclusion with the package that went to Office of Personnel Management. OPM finalized my case on Aug. 27.

I just received my retirement benefits booklet and discovered that the IISA election apparently was rejected or ignored.  I immediately called the Retirement Information Office at 1-888-767-6738 to question the rejection and was told that only spouses, former spouses and dependent children qualified for the survivor annuity. All others only qualified as insurance beneficiaries. I directed the service representative to the attached OPM retirement FAQ to no avail. I was given a phone number, 724-794-2005, in Pennsylvania to further pursue the issue, but the automated recording required the direct extension of the party I was calling and directed me back to the Retirement Information Office where I started the inquiry. Which is it? Is the FAQ in error or are the OPM personnel, to include the adjudicators, misinformed?

A. What you were told was wrong. An insurable interest annuity is presumed to exist for any of the following: a spouse, a blood or adoptive relative closer than a first cousin, a former spouse, a person with whom you are engaged to be married, a relationship that would constitute a common-law marriage, and a current or former same-sex domestic partner. Since your sister falls into the blood relative closer than first cousin category, no affidavits are required to confirm that she meets the insurable interest criteria. To get the error corrected, write to the Director, Retirement Services, 1900 E Street NW, Washington DC, 20415

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