PERMISS

Federal Employee Death Benefits

This article provides information regarding benefits that may be available to the survivor(s) and/or family members of deceased employees. If there are any questions concerning survivor’s benefits, contact the Army Benefits Center-Civilian (ABC-C) at 1-877-276-9287. ABC-C counselors are available Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Central time.

Retirement - Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

  • A monthly survivor annuity is payable to an eligible spouse if an employee had completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service and died while subject to CSRS deductions. The surviving spouse must have been married to the employee for at least 9 months at time of death (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of the marriage, the nine month requirement does not apply).
  • If a court order awards part of the total survivor annuity to a former spouse, the current spouse will receive the remainder. If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, the current spouse may begin to receive the full annuity.
  • The guaranteed minimum amount (typically, less than 21 years 11 months service) of survivor annuity is 55% of the lesser of 40% of employee's high-3 average salary at date of death; or the amount of annuity that would have been paid had employee worked until 60 years old at the same high-3.
  • When the widow's or widower's annuity based on the employee's actual service (typically, at least 21 years 11 months service) would be more than the amount under the guaranteed minimum provision, the spouse receives 55% of the annuity that would have been earned by the employee at date of death.
  • Unmarried children receive monthly annuity until age 18 or if attending an accredited educational institution full time until age 22. Unmarried disabled children are also covered if the disability occurred before age 18.

Retirement - Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS)

  • The basic employee death benefit is payable if the employee had completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service and died while subject to FERS deductions. The surviving spouse must have been married to the employee for at least 9 months at time of death (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of the marriage, the nine month requirement does not apply). The basic employee death benefit amount is a lump sum payment (currently $29,722.95) plus a lump sum equal to the higher of half of the final salary at the time of death or half of the high-3 average salary.
  • If a court order awards part of the total survivor annuity to a former spouse, the current spouse will receive the remainder. If the former spouse loses entitlement because of death or remarriage before age 55, the current spouse may begin to receive the full annuity.
  • If the deceased employee had 10 or more years of creditable service the basic employee death benefit amount is payable plus a survivor annuity equal to 50% of the employee's basic FERS annuity at time of death.
  • Social Security benefits are payable if the deceased employee had earned sufficient credit (normally one and a half to ten years) covered by Social Security.
  • Unmarried children receive a monthly survivor annuity reduced by the amount of any Social Security survivor benefit payable (also applicable to CSRS-Offset) until age 18 or if attending an accredited educational institution full time until age 22. Unmarried disabled children are also covered if the disability occurred before age 18.

If an employee dies and no survivor annuity is payable based on his/her death, the retirement contributions remaining to the deceased person’s credit in the Civil Service/Federal Employees Retirement and Disability Fund, plus applicable interest, are payable.

If a lump sum benefit is payable, it is paid to the first person eligible under the following order of precedence:

  • to the designated beneficiary;
  • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
  • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child;
  • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
  • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
  • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.

If the employees wish to make a designation for CSRS contributions, they should complete a Designation of Beneficiary (SF 2808) and forward to the Office of Personnel Management (address is on the form). If they wish to make a designation for their FERS contributions, they should complete a Designation of Beneficiary (SF 3102) and submit it to their local human resources office.

Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

When an insured enrollee dies while insured under FEGLI, the beneficiary(ies) or other survivors will receive the insured's Basic, and Option A/Option B benefits (if enrolled).

If the employees did not assign ownership and there is no valid court on file, Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will pay benefits the same as lump sum retirement benefits order of precedence.

If the employees wish to make a designation for their Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), employees should complete a Designation of Beneficiary (SF 2823) and submit it to their local human resources office. The human resources office must receive the form before the employee dies.

If the employees decide to file a designation, they should ensure it remains accurate and reflects their intentions. Employees should review their designation periodically, and file a new designation whenever a beneficiary's address changes. Failure to do so may mean that the OFEGLI may not be able to locate their beneficiaries and therefore cannot pay them the death benefits.

Leave, Final Pay & Thrift Savings Plan

  • Employee's beneficiary receives lump sum payment for unused annual leave accrued.
  • Sick leave balance is applied in the calculation of a survivor annuity. Unpaid compensation is paid to employee's beneficiary.
  • Beneficiary receives amount in TSP account (with options, for example, surviving spouses may transfer balance to IRA.

Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA)

  • FECA benefits are not available if the survivor elects to receive annuity under CSRS/FERS.
  • If death occurs from injury sustained in performance of duty, survivors are entitled to tax-exempt compensation payments.
  • Surviving spouse is compensated at rate of 50% of the deceased employee's salary. If children are eligible in addition to the spouse, compensation is 45% plus additional 15% for each child, to maximum of 75% of employee's regular pay.
  • Government pays up to $800 funeral and burial expenses. If employee dies away from area of residence, cost of transporting body to place of burial is also paid. In addition, a $200 allowance is paid in consideration of terminating the deceased's status as Federal employee.

FECA prohibits payment of compensation and certain other Federal benefits at the same time. For example, military payments in the "Black Hawk" incident had to be deducted from FECA payments to avoid dual benefits.

Death Gratuity Payment

The death gratuity is a payment to a claimant who is an eligible survivor or a designated alternate beneficiary of an employee who dies of injuries incurred in connection with the employee’s service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation.

Personal representative of employee in entitled to $10,000 payment minus:

  • $200 payable under 5 U.S.C. § 8133(f), for reimbursement of the costs of termination of the decedent's status as an employee of the United States;

  • up to $800 payable under 5 U.S.C. § 8134(a), for funeral and burial expenses in cases of employees who died as a result of an injury sustained in the performance of duty; and

  • any amount paid under section 312 of Public Law 103-332, the
    Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,1995. This authority provides for payment of up to $10,000 inreimbursement for burial costs and related out-of-pocket expenses for employees killed in the line of duty in agencies that receive appropriations under a Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1995 and thereafter

The amount paid under these three authorities, plus the gratuity paid under the newauthority, may not total more than $10,000. The gratuity is not reduced by any other amounts, including other benefits payable under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.

The personal representative is determined by state law.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)

  • Survivor may continue enrollment in the FEHBP if the deceased employee was enrolled for self and family at the time of death and at least one family member is entitled to a monthly annuity as the survivor of the deceased employee.
  • If the surviving spouse of a deceased FERS employee is not eligible for monthly survivor annuity benefits (because the employee had less than 10 years of creditable service), he or she may, nonetheless, elect to continue coverage provided the surviving spouse is eligible for the basic employee death benefit.

Tax Benefits

  • Proceeds of FEGLI policies that are paid as a death benefit to a designated beneficiary are not taxable as income to the beneficiary.
  • Survivor benefit payments under CSRS and FERS are taxable as income.
  • FECA benefits are non-taxable.


Counseling

  • Army Benefits Center-Civilian (ABC-C) will provide a counselor to assist the survivor with information and completion of claims.
  • The counseling session provides opportunity to describe types of benefits payable; provide and assist in completing required benefit forms; answer questions regarding entitlements; discuss claim processing time, including questions about child/children's annuity; advise survivor of need to contact the Social Security Administration to determine present or future entitlement to Social Security benefit; explain the effects of deposits and redeposits for civilian and/or military service and assist in preparing related election forms.
  • Catastrophic events such as the Oklahoma bombing produce extraordinary support efforts from all levels of the organization (e.g., established contact with local counseling activities to provide initial and follow-up counseling sessions to employees and family members; raised contributions from fellow employees to provide emergency relief to families; arranged for free legal advice).

Content last reviewed: 9/20/2012-VOH

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This page was last revised: 9/20/2012