A Checklist for Spousal Survivors of Federal Workers or Retirees

Federal Employee Articles

A Checklist for Spousal Survivors of Federal Workers or Retirees

Posted by Benchmark Financial Group, LLC
1 month ago | August 19, 2019

After the loss of a spouse, paperwork and phone calls are the last thing anyone wants to deal with. Unfortunately, these things are also a fact of life. If you’re a federal employee or retiree, reviewing your survivor benefits with your spouse will become an important part of estate planning. Provide them with this handy checklist, and difficult time can be made a bit easier by de-mystifying the process of claiming benefits.

Report the death. The first step for a surviving spouse of a federal employee or retiree is to report the death. Employee deaths should be reported to the worker’s human resources office, whereas retiree deaths should be reported to the OPM at 1-888-767-6738.

Complete paperwork. Surviving spouses will be required to complete a set of paperwork, which will be determined and mailed after the death is reported. Along with the appropriate forms, the spouse might be asked to attach items such as:

  • Copy of marriage certificate
  • Copy of death certificate
  • The retiree’s DD Form 214 (if military)

The surviving spouse should keep a copy of everything, just in case of loss, and mail all requested documents via US certified mail with return receipt.

If the surviving spouse is to receive a survivor annuity, this will be determined by the OPM when the death is reported.

File for life insurance benefits. If the deceased spouse had enrolled in Federal Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), the beneficiary (usually the spouse, but not always) should download a claim form from the OPM website. Thirty days after mailing the form to OFEGLI, the beneficiary can check on the status of the claim by calling 1-800-633-4542.

Report to TSP. The beneficiary of TSP funds must use form TSP-17, Information Relating to Deceased Participant. Mail the completed form, along with a copy of the death certificate, to:

TSP Death Benefits Processing Unit
P.O. Box 4450
Fairfax, VA 22038-4450

A surviving spouse has the option to leave remaining funds in the TSP, and continue disbursements as usual. An IRA rollover is another option. Otherwise, the funds can be paid in a lump sum to the beneficiary.

Contact Social Security. The death should be reported to Social Security, so that payments can be corrected. Surviving spouses will be informed of their options at this time.

This general checklist will give surviving spouses of federal employees or retirees a starting point for processing necessary paperwork. However, certain other decisions will be made at this time as well. Surviving spouses can also contact us regarding TSP funds and financial planning for their future.

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