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COAP under Civil Service Retirement System

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I recently met with grandfathered Civil Service postal employee who is contemplating retirement. She is 55.

She was divorced in 2003 and her attorney drafted a COAP in 2004 that was submitted to the OPM. The COAP provided that the former spouse was awarded 50% of the employee's gross monthly annuity multiplied by a fraction , the numerator of which is the total number of months of Creditable Service earned under the marrage, from 9/10/94 to 7/02/03, and the denominator of which is the total number of months of the employee's Creditable Service accrued under the Civil Service Retirement System. The attached Paragraph 10 of the COAP also awarded the former spouse a survivor annuity pursuant to section 8341 of Title 5 USC. 

Attached is the OPM response. Note in Paragraph 4 the author comments that he finds no reference to a survivor annuity in the COAP. The employee, and I for that matter, are confused. The existence of a survivor annuity impacts her monthly benefit. Can anyone explain the apparent conflict?

OPM Letter.pdf

Para 10 of COAP.pdf

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No expert I, but might there be some "inexact" terminology?  That is, what is meant by "survivor annuity"?  Does it refer to something triggered upon death prior to retirement/commencement? Or triggered upon death after retirement/commencement?  Perhaps your meaning of that phrase differs from the meaning used by the OPM?

Just asking; make sure you start on the same page.

I'm a retirement actuary. Nothing about my comments is intended or should be construed as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. Occasionally, but not all the time, it might be reasonable to interpret my comments as actuarial or consulting advice.

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The COAP provides for a Former Spouse Survivor Annuity, or FSSA, which is very precise. I believe the only resolution is to ask the OPM to clarify their letter. Has anyone ever had such a communication with the OPM? My not yet client insists that she called them and got nowhere. I'd like to help her, but am reluctant to get into multiple hours hours of work that she could never afford. 


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On 9/15/2017 at 3:34 PM, Thornton said:

 My not yet client insists that she called them and got nowhere. 


As the second spouse of a CSRS covered employee, I can definitely confirm this part of the problem.

Often they will provide an estimate in advance of the actual commencement of benefits. Why not see what they come up with and then ask questions if it doesn't seem right?

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