Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Surviors benefits and continued health insurance

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Q. I am currently enrolled in an insurance program that will pay out excellent benefits should I die before my spouse. I am getting ready to retire under CSRS Offset. How much of a reduced survivor benefit do I need to take to ensure my wife maintains her health benefits?

A: By law you must provide a full survivor annuity for your wife, unless she agrees to a lesser amount or none at all. Because you are covered by CSRS, you could, with her permission, elect an annual annuity of as little as $1. As long as you are alive and enrolled in the FEHB self and family option, it makes no difference what amount you elect. However, if you were to die and the amount of the annuity you agreed on wasn’t enough, she would be able to pay the premiums directly to OPM.

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