Q & A Session – Survivor as Beneficiary


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


My father passed away last year without picking a beneficiary for his pension. My mother recently received a letter stating that she would not receive his pension since he did not designate her as the beneficiary. Shouldn’t she be receiving his pension?


If your parents were married when your father retired, he cannot simply abandon your mother by signing away her survivor rights unless he had her written consent to do so. See 5 C.F.R. Part 831: sections 831.611, 614, 618. Something does not sound right based on what you are saying and there may be other missing critical information. What’s OPM’s position on your mother’s right to an annuity based on being a surviving spouse?

Bill Bransford is managing partner at Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

1 Comment

  1. Wilfred Horrach on

    Is it legal for an agency to allow personnel who are on a temp promotion (GS-13 that can be made permanent without further consideration) and whom want to step down, serve past a year so they can retain GS-13 equivilant pay when they go back to GS-12? They chose to step down in September and the agency is waiting until January for them to step down.

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