Q & A Session – Retirement Benefit Question


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 two years before retiring from FAA after working there for 26 years. I was 28 years old at the time. He divorced my mother when I was 13 years old and never remarried. I was named his beneficiary with 80 percent of his life insurance and a 100 percent beneficiary of his retirement. Since he passed away only two years prior to his retirement, I was told that I was eligible only for his lump sum and accumulated vacation time but not his pension benefits. It seems like there should be a percentage of his pension, not only a lump sum.


Only surviving spouses are entitled to receive a pension.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of 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. Unless you have a disability that kept you as a legal dependent to your father. I am not sure of the criteria for this pension status for you … but … if your father maintained you on his taxes as a dependent (reguardless of your age) due to a disability you have, then you might want to ask questions with OPM about this … there is a program … if not, I would think it might be a hard sell. No matter what your disability status is, you can always ask questions. If you have a disability and you think you might qualify then don’t accept a payout until you know for sure what your options are.

    I am not a lawyer or an expert in this area, I am not being paid to do this, so I have not researched it for you and as your mom and dad must have said, “you get what you pay for”, so don’t exect to recieve a lifetime income based on this comment. But as the line goes from Dumb and Dumber … “so your saying there is a chance” ….

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