No one likes to think about, or plan for, the end of their life. Yet, it’s a fact of life that we all must face. Federal employees count upon a high quality retirement system (called FERS) to provide income for their later years. But you might worry about what would happen to your spouse, if you should pass away prematurely.
It might ease your mind to know that if something should happen to you, your benefits are not completely lost. Your surviving spouse will be eligible for the Basic Employee Death Benefit, equal to 50 percent of your final salary (or average salary if higher), plus $30,792.98.
Of course, some restrictions do exist. Your spouse will only be eligible for the death benefit if you were married at least nine months prior to your death. Otherwise, benefits will only apply if your death was accidental or if you had a child together.
What about your former spouse? In some cases, your FERS benefits might also be eligible to your former spouse. You must have been married for at least nine months, and your spouse could not have remarried before turning age 55. In order to grant this benefit to your former spouse, there must be a qualifying court order awarding a death benefit on file with the Office of Personnel Management. This often happens in divorce cases in which minor children are involved, but might apply to other situations as well.
Speaking of children…. Your minor children might also qualify for monthly benefits if something happens to you. They must be under age 18, or 22 if attending college. Children who were disabled before reaching age 18 can receive payments indefinitely unless they get married. Step-children might also be included in survivor payments if they lived with you at the time of your death.
It should be comforting to know that your FERS benefits won’t be lost if the worst-case scenario happens but of course, you might wish to offer additional protection to your spouse or children through a life insurance policy. Call us to set up an appointment, and we can help you identify all of your options to protect those you love most.