Surviving, relocating and job-seeking

A Reader Writes:

My husband and I are government employees with 15 years of service each. We are both under the Federal Employees Retirement System.

For years we have received the benefits statement showing what our estimated survivor annuity would be in the event of either of us passing away. However, co-workers have told me that neither I nor my husband would be eligible for any survivor annuity because we both are in federal service. Is this really the case?

Milt Replies:

No. Your entitlement to a survivor annuity is not affected by your current employment.

The widow or widower of a deceased federal employee is generally eligible for a monthly survivor annuity, provided he or she was married to the deceased for at least nine months before the death. If the surviving spouse had a child with the deceased person or if the death was accidental, the nine-month marriage requirement does not apply.

The widow or widower of a deceased annuitant can be eligible only if the annuitant has elected a reduced payment with survivor benefits.

If you are entitled to receive a civil service annuity based on your own federal service, there may be a reduction in the amount of any Social Security benefit you receive based on your deceased spouse's service.

A Reader Writes:

I now have to commute by auto 45 miles one way from New York to New Jersey since the U.S. Information Agency integrated with the State Department in October 1999.

My office might move to another location in New Jersey that would be more than 50 miles from my home. Isn't there a rule that if the move is more than 50 miles, they have to find me a position closer to my home or some other compensation?

Milt Replies:

If your office moves, you will be notified of your rights. However, whatever rights you may have relate to how far the new office is from your old office, not your home. If your agency moves 50 or more miles from its present location, then you would be presented with a set of options. You could be relocated (moved to be closer to work) or offered the option to retire.

A Reader Writes:

Where can I find federal IT security jobs?

Milt Replies:

Try USAJobs at and type "security" in the Search Jobs window.

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at


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