Understanding Survivor Benefits & Federal Disability Retirement

Mar 28, 2016

survivor benefits

When filling out your federal disability retirement application, you will be required to make critical decisions regarding your life insurance and survivor benefits. Though it may seem like opting into survivor benefits is a necessity, you will find that the survivor benefits for federal disability retirement applicants are relatively limited.

Unlike the general survivor benefit options for federal workers retiring under regular retirement, disability retirement applicants are unable to leave their annuity to dependents –only their spouse or former-spouse is entitled to the benefit. If a federal worker outlives his or her spouse, then the payments they contributed for survivor benefits will prove futile.  Additionally, the survivor benefit choices are limited. A federal worker can choose to leave their spouse 50 percent or 25 percent of their annuity, or opt out of the program entirely. If a federal worker chooses to opt out of the survivor benefits program, however, their surviving spouse will not be eligible to remain on their health insurance.

This decision is significant. Even after their disability annuity transitions over to regular retirement at the age 62, a federal employee may not change their survivor benefit unless a major life event occurs.

Of the FERS survivor options, federal disability retirement claimants are only eligible for monthly survivor benefits, which are monthly payments made to a surviving spouse in the event of the death of the federal worker. Monthly payments to a surviving spouse will continue for life unless the surviving spouse remarries before the age of 55. If, however, the spouse was married to the federal worker for at least 30 years, he or she can continue receiving benefits even if there is a remarriage before age 55.

Consulting with Professionals

The Federal Disability Retirement application process can be overwhelming, and deciding on critical factors such as survivor benefits contributes to the pressure. Some federal workers decide to opt out of survivor benefits and instead pay into a life insurance policy with a private company. When making such important decisions, it’s helpful to first consult with a benefits or financial professional. At Harris Federal, we’ve helped thousands of federal workers file and gain approval for federal disability retirement benefits, and we are there for our clients throughout every step of the application process. We know several financial representatives who provide insurance policies and benefits packages for federal workers. If you are in the process of filing for federal disability retirement, call us today at (877) 226-2723 or fill out an INQUIRY FORM for a FREE consultation. We are here to help, and if you need assistance regarding financial benefit policies, we are happy to point you in the right direction!

Message us & find out if you qualify today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Recent Articles

Federal Employee Resources

Our ever growing library of federal employee resources give you the knowledge you need to make smart choices about your future.


Frequently Asked Questions

Get the answers you need on-demand, from a team of federal employee benefits professionals.

View FAQ

Federal Benefit Webinars

Twice per month we host webinars to help federal employees better understand their benefits and answer their questions LIVE.

See Webinar Schedule

Benefit Guides

From guides to detailed charts, these educational resources will help clarify confusing federal employee benefits topics.

See our resources