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By: Sara Prose, Esq.

Although the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents same-sex couples from designating a spouse as a survivor beneficiary in a retiree’s federal pension, spouses of retirees may still be able to obtain an insurable interest survivor annuity.

Under both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a retiree may choose an insurable interest survivor annuity for someone who has a reasonable expectation of financial benefit from the continued life of the retiree. An insurable interest therefore allows you to provide a benefit to someone who you are not married to (under the federal definition of marriage).

If the person receiving the insurable interest survivor annuity is not a spouse, an affidavit from one or more people with knowledge of the individual’s insurable interest should be submitted with the retiree’s retirement application.  The affidavits should state the nature of the person’s relationship with the retiree, the extent the person named is dependent on the retiree; and the reasons why the person named might reasonably expect to derive financial benefit from the retiree’s continued life.

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