The widow or widower of a Federal employee who dies on or after 10/20/69, is eligible
for a survivor's annuity if the employee had at least 18 months of Federal civilian
service. The surviving spouse may be awarded a survivor's annuity computed at 55 percent
of the earned annuity that would have been payable to the employee based upon the
years of Federal civilian employment and pre-1957 MS, without reduction for being
under age 55. Thus, SS wage credits are precluded. The surviving spouse is guaranteed,
however, that the amount of the award will be at least 55 percent of the smaller of:
forty percent of the employee's average “high-3” pay, or
the amount of annuity to which the employee could have become entitled had he or she
retired at age 60.
Awards computed under these two formulas are referred to as guaranteed minimum annuities.
The latter formula will credit directly any pre-1957 MS that is creditable under the
CSRS to compute the amount of the award. The forty percent formula never uses pre-1957
MS to establish eligibility or to compute the amount of survivor annuity.
Pre-1957 MS is only creditable for SS purposes whenever OPM awards a survivor annuity
computed under the 40 percent formula. The guaranteed minimum will not be used if
the earned annuity produces a higher benefit. Since service cannot be projected past
age 60, the guaranteed minimum is not operative when an employee dies upon or after
reaching age 60.
Therefore, SSA-655-U2 development is required when the employee dies prior to age
60, unless the survivor states that pre-1957 MS was definitely credited, which bars
SSA pre-1957 MS credit. An SSA-655-U2 is not required when the employee dies at age
60 or older, since the survivor benefit will be based on the regular length of service
earned annuity which will include pre-1957 MS credit.
The surviving spouse receives 55 percent of the amount the annuitant chose as a base
for the survivor election. Since the surviving spouse's benefit flows directly from
the age, length of service, or disability annuity of the deceased annuitant, the use
or non-use of pre-1957 MS in the annuity determines if SS may grant wage credits.
SSA-655-U2 development will be required in all cases, unless the survivor knows that
the deceased annuitant was receiving a retirement annuity based on length of service,
or a disability annuity that began after age 60, or had more than 21 years and 11
months of service.
If the annuitant, at retirement, did not provide for a survivor benefit, and OPM cannot
pay a surviving spouse a benefit upon termination of the annuity at death, OPM use
of pre-1957 MS for the deceased's annuity prior to death bars SS pre-1957 MS wage
credits for survivor entitlement or benefit computation purposes.