Publication Date



Federal employees with permanent appointments are generally eligible for retirement and disability benefits under either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Most federal employees initially hired into permanent federal employment on or after January 1, 1984, are covered by FERS. Employees hired before January 1, 1984, are covered by CSRS unless they chose to switch to FERS during open seasons held in 1987 and 1998. Both FERS and CSRS provide survivor benefits for spouses and dependent children of employees and retirees. Survivors who had been participating in the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) can continue to do so. The federal government pays compensation to dependent survivors of federal civilian employees who are killed while performing their duties; however, a survivor eligible for both an annuity under CSRS or FERS and for survivor compensation cannot receive both.


Suggested Citation
Isaacs, K. P. (2012). Survivor benefits for families of civilian federal employees and retirees. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.