Annuities are payable to widow(er)s and unmarried children; in certain cases, benefits are also payable to parents, remarried widow(er)s, grandchildren, and surviving divorced spouses.
WIDOW(ER)S' ANNUITIES are payable at:
- Age 60; age reductions are applied to annuities awarded before full retirement age. The eligibility age for unreduced annuities is gradually rising from age 65 to age 67, depending on the year of birth.
- Ages 50-59 if the widow(er) is totally and permanently disabled and unable to work in any regular employment. The disability must have begun within 7 years after the employee's death or within 7 years after the termination of an annuity based on caring for a child of the deceased employee. In most cases, a 5-month waiting period is required after the onset of disability before a disability annuity can begin.
- Any age if the widow(er) is caring for an unmarried child of the deceased employee under age 18 or a disabled child of any age who became disabled before age 22.
Generally, the widow(er) must have been married to the employee for at least 9 months prior to death, unless she or he was the natural or adoptive parent of their child, the employee's death was accidental or while on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, the widow(er) was potentially entitled to certain railroad retirement or social security benefits in the month before the month of marriage, or the marriage was postponed due to State restrictions on the employee's prior marriage and divorce due to mental incompetence or similar incapacity.
Survivor annuities may also be payable to a surviving divorced spouse or remarried widow(er). Benefits are limited to the amounts social security would pay and therefore are less than the amount of the survivor annuity otherwise payable. However, a former spouse may be paid a court-ordered partition amount.
A surviving divorced spouse may qualify if she or he was married to the employee for a period of at least 10 years immediately before the date the divorce became final, is unmarried or remarried under the conditions described in the next paragraph, and is age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled). A surviving divorced spouse who is unmarried can qualify at any age if caring for the employee's child and the child is under age 16 or disabled, in which case the 10-year marriage requirement does not apply.
The portion of a survivor annuity equivalent to a social security benefit (tier I) may be paid to a widow(er) or surviving divorced spouse who remarries after age 60, or to a disabled widow(er) or disabled surviving divorced spouse who remarries after age 50; however, remarriage prior to age 60 (or age 50 if disabled) would not prevent eligibility if such remarriage ends. Such social security level benefits may also be paid to a younger widow(er) or surviving divorced spouse caring for the employee's child who is under age 16 or disabled, if the remarriage is to a person entitled to railroad retirement or social security benefits or the remarriage ends.
OTHER SURVIVOR ANNUITIES are payable to:
- An unmarried child under age 18.
- An unmarried child age 18 in full-time attendance at an elementary or secondary school or in approved homeschooling until the student attains age 19 or the end of the school term in progress when the student attains age 19. In most cases where a student attains age 19 during the school term, benefits are limited to the 2 months following the month age 19 is attained. These benefits will be terminated earlier if the student marries, graduates, or ceases full-time attendance.
- An unmarried disabled child over age 18 if the child became totally and permanently disabled before age 22.
- An unmarried dependent grandchild meeting any of the requirements described above for a child, if both the grandchild's parents are deceased or found disabled by the Social Security Administration.
- A parent at age 60 who was dependent on the employee for at least half of the parent's support. If the employee was also survived by a widow(er), surviving divorced spouse, or child who could ever qualify for an annuity, the parent's annuity is limited to the amount that social security would pay.