By Reg Jones
August 14th, 2014 | spouse benefits
Q. In the FERS retirement system, do I have to be married at the time of my retirement to obtain a spousal
annuity benefit, or can I get married after I retire and then change my status to spousal annuity? If I am married at the time of retirement and obtain a spousal annuity and later my spouse dies, can I change to the higher nonspousal annuity?
A. If you are married when you retire, you are required by law to elect a spousal annuity. If your spouse died before you, your annuity would return to what it would have been if you hadn’t elected a survivor annuity. If you marry after you retire, you can elect a spousal annuity. If you do, there will be two reductions in your annuity. One is the standard reduction to provide the survivor annuity. This reduction would be eliminated if your marriage were to end. The second is a permanent actuarial reduction to pay the survivor annuity deposit. That deposit equals the difference between the new annuity rate and the annuity paid to you for each month since retirement, plus 6 percent interest. The actuarial reduction wouldn’t be eliminated if your marriage were to end.
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