WHAT TO DO
WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES:
Note: The following information on survivor benefits is provided as a
guide only, however there may be changes that occur over time. To ensure the quickest contact and up-to-date guidance, those needing to report a death to the Office of Personnel Management should make a call to the following telephone numbers during these hours of operation.
telephone (888) 767-6738, **TTY 1(800) 878-5707**
Hours of operation are M-F 7:30 A.M. until 7:45 P.M. (Eastern Time)
BENEFITS AVAILABLE TO SURVIVORS
As a retired Federal employee, monetary benefits are available to my survivor (s).
These benefits include: 1) a lump sum payment of my final month’s annuity; 2) a continuing monthly benefit; and 3) your Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance proceeds; and 4) proceeds from your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Social Security survivor benefits may also be available depending on individual circumstances.
HELP YOUR SURVIVOR while she/he is still your SPOUSE! Approximately 75
percent of all survivor benefits are paid to widows. However, an increasing percent are being paid to widowers.
Make certain your spouse, designated survivor (s), and estate executor knows about entitlement to survivor benefits. As a minimum, keep these individuals informed of the following:
Your Survivor Benefit Annuity value changes annually with each Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The value of the survivor annuity (as well as the amount of the COLA) is listed in the Notice of Annuity Adjustment that you receive from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) about January 1, each year.
Entitlement to your last month’s annuity, prorated for each day of the month you lived;
Your Family and/or Basic Federal Employee’s Life Insurance;
An explanation of the taxability of the survivor benefit with your spouse. IRS Publication 721, Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits, covers this topic and,
Your benefits in the Federal Thrift Savings Plan
This Guide provides information for applying for survivor benefits and a reference to let your survivor (s) and estate Executors know about your personal affairs. Informing your survivor (s) and executor of the location of important
papers, including this Guide with your Retirement Claim Number and Social
Security Number included will save your loved ones time, energy, and worry.
There are many checklists available which outline in greater detail all the information and actions to be done in case of serious illness or death. Choose
any checklist that you and your spouse find satisfactory and USE IT! The information in this Guide is specific for that portion of your affairs that are the result of your status as a Federal Annuitant.
ACTIONS NEEDED WHEN THE ANNUITANT DIES
Notify OPM immediately.
Usually, the best way is to call at 202.606.0500 or 1.888.767.6738. The telephone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The automatic answering system guides a person through the menu offering
an opportunity to report a death without waiting to speak to a Customer Service
Specialist. Between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), callers may stay on the line and speak to a Specialist.
The person reporting the death should be prepared to provide the following information:
Full name of the Decedent: _______________________________________
Retirement Claim Number: _____________________________
Social Security Number of Decedent: _________________________
Date of Birth: __________________
Date of Death: ____________________
Name of the Person Reporting the Death: _____________________
Survivor’s Social Security Number: __________________
Address of the Person Reporting the Death: ______________________________
Telephone Number of the Person Reporting the Death: ____________________
The death can also be reported in writing.
Your survivors should provide the above information plus a copy of the death certificate, if available, (if the death certificate is not available, it can be provided at a later date when submitting application for death benefits) to:
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center
P.O. Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017-0045
The following Notification of Annuitant’s Death form letter may be used for reporting the death in writing. Just print the form letter, complete the form, and send to the listed OPM address.
A death may also be reported via the
Internet to: OPM This link
takes you to the OPM Index Page, from which you can further search their site
for the information that you need. The OPM site appears to be blocked to
any links from other web sites.
As soon as OPM hears of the death,
they will stop annuity payment and send Standard Form 2800, Application for
Death Benefits, to the person who appears to be entitled to death benefits.
If Federal Employee’s Group Life Insurance is payable, OPM will also
send an application for that benefit. They
will have this information in their records.
If you are due a life insurance payment and you do not receive an
application for this benefit, contact them again.
To avoid any violation of law, all
checks not cashed before death must be returned to:
Regional Financial Center
U.S. Treasury Department
P.O. Box 7367
Chicago, IL 60680-7367
A statement reporting the death should be
included or written across the face of the returned check.
If annuity payments are being deposited directly into a financial
institution, the survivor should immediately notify the institution of the
If Thrift Savings Plan benefits are
available, a form TSP-17, Information Relating to Deceased Participants, must
be submitted together with a copy of the Certificate of Death to:
TSP Service Office
National Finance Center
PO Box 61500
New Orleans, LA 70161-1500
TSP-17 may be obtained by writing to the TSP
Service Office at the above address or by contacting them at 504.255.8777 or at
their TSP Web
Site: This Web site provides valuable information about payment of benefits,
forms, publications, and calculators. [Note:
If you get a “Name and Password Required” message, click the
“Cancel” button and the page will probably load OK. If it
doesn’t, use the OPM link above and navigate from there.]
the beneficiaries have been determined, the TSP Service Office will provide them
with information about death benefit payments and a tax notice.
Payments are made between 45 and 60 days after the notices to the
TO REMEMBER REGARDING RETIREE’S ANNUITY
A retiree’s annuity
entitlement stops at midnight on the date of death.
Two Certificates of Death are
usually required to claim benefits. One
for a survivor’s benefit and lump sum payment for final month’s annuity,
and one for a Group Life Insurance claim.
These are submitted when returning claim forms to OPM.
Allow about 10 working days for
OPM to return claim forms to the requesting person.
Allow about 30 working days
after OPM receives completed claim forms for payment of survivor benefits.
A continuing monthly survivor
benefit can be deposited directly into a financial institution account just
like an annuitant’s. Ask your
institution for a SF-1199A to be completed by them and you.
Return it to OPM with the Claim for Benefits.
There is no reason to involve an
attorney in communication with OPM. Doing
so may lead to delays and complications.
If the deceased has left the needed information and briefed the
survivor (s) or executor, there should be no difficulties.
FACT TO REMEMBER REGARDING
A survivor’s annuity (i.e.,
the surviving spouse of a Federal retiree) is for whole months only.
There is not a benefit for the final month unless the survivor dies on
the last day of the month. A
Certificate of Death is usually not needed by OPM in conjunction with a
RELATED INFORMATION AND
Informational pamphlets with
valuable information can be obtained by calling or writing to OPM at the above
address or telephone number and providing your Retirement Claim Number and date
of birth. These and many other
informational publications are also available for downloading from the OPM
Retiree Web Site at;
[Same note as
above re: page loading]. This web site is filled with a large variety of information for your
perusal. The publications and the
downloading of information are available free of charge.
PUBLICATION NAME and TITLE NUMBER
Information for Annuitants on the Civil Service Retirement System: RI 20-59
Information for Survivor
Annuitants: RI 25-26
Information for Retirees
About the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program: RI 76-12
Information for Retirees and
Survivor Annuitants About the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: RI
OF ANNUITANT’S DEATH
FROM: ________________________________(Full name of survivor, executor, etc.)
(First line of address)
(City, State, & Zip Code)
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center
P.O. Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017-0045
To Whom It May Concern: ________________________________
(Name of Annuitant/Decedent)
died on ________________________________
The retirement claim number of the decedent is __________________.
Social Security Number of the decedent is __________________________.
Please send claim forms to me at the
above address. I am the (check all
My Social Security Number is
___________________. I can be
reached during business hours at the following
telephone number: (_______) ____________________.
Here is a PDF file of the above –
GUIDE TO APPLYING FOR FEDERAL SURVIVOR BENEFITS
Handy links to
questions frequently asked by retirees
What if you signed up for life insurance and weren’t entitled to it?
Information for terminally ill:
Another option for the terminally ill: http://www.opm.gov/retire/asd/pdf/95-216.pdf
Assignment of ownership of your FEGLI: http://www.opm.gov/retire/asd/pdf/95-221.pdf
Taxes and option 2 and 3 above: http://www.opm.gov/retire/asd/pdf/96-206.pdf
How to designate a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance: http://www.opm.gov/retire/asd/pdf/98-106.pdf