Survivor benefit


Q: I retired under the FERS program. I took the 10 percent reduction in my pension so that my wife would have survivor’s benefits. I heard that if my wife dies according to the list below, my 90 percent reduction would change accordingly. Is this true?

  • dies after 1st year: 98 percent reduction
  • dies after 2nd year: 96 percent reduction
  • dies after 3rd year: 94 percent reduction
  • dies after 4th year: 92 percent reduction
  • dies after 5th year: 90 percent reduction

A: When your beneficiary spouse dies before you, the entire reduction to your annuity is canceled, and your annuity will increase to what it would have been had you not elected the survivor benefit in the first place, including any COLA adjustments.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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