For what reason can OPM cancel a (Civil Service) survivors annuity

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My ex-husband and I were still married when he retired from the US Postal Service as a Letter Carrier. I was with him when he went to personnel to set up his retirement. He assigned me the survivors annuity. In 2008 we divorced. I was granted a court order to retain the annuity. The next year OPM marked the case pending and then canceled. Just found yesterday when I called OPM about filing SF2800

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Posted by (Questions: 1, Answers: 3)
Asked on May 9, 2018 11:52 pm
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If your husband elected a survivor benefit for you when he retired and you subsequently divorced, the divorce decree had to award you a survivor benefit to be payable upon his death as the divorce negated the original election. You need to read your divorce decree to see what it provides and if you were provided with one, then check with OPM as to why you are not collecting if he has passed away.

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Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 317)
Answered on May 10, 2018 12:55 am

The Divorce decree has a court order that grants me the survivors annuity. 2009 when OPM canceled the annuity he was in a coma for a month. His son probably had at least a temp. POA until he recovered. It was only a few weeks ago that I found
out online that he had actually passed away March 2016. Since then I have verified his death with the SSA office, obtained certified raised seal complete copies of the divorce decree/court order, and a certified copy of his death certificate. Last week I tried numerous times to reach the dept. that handles Survivors Annuities with court orders and also this past Monday and Tuesday without success. Tuesday afternoon I reached someone through the regular OPM phone tree. That’s when I found out about the cancellation. The employee sent a message over to the annuities dept requesting reopening the case along with my contact info and the reason why it needed to be reopened.
Also, she agreed that I should go ahead and submit the SF2800 and all supporting documentation.
I wrote a letter formally requesting that the file be reopened and included MY CSA ID number, SSN, and every means to contact me along with his SSN and pertinent information. Since there were so many pages I sealed them in a Manila envelope. Then, on the outside of the envelope I wrote Application for Survivors Annuities with Court Orders, a complete list of documents enclosed, how many pages per document, total pages enclosed, my name and his
name. After that I overnighted Express Mail with signature required. It was signed for and delivered this afternoon. The employee I spoke with Tuesday said that they didn’t know why the file was pulled, reviewed and canceled. To some, my measures may seem meticulous but I still remember what it was like having to file first with the USPS and then OPM for my disability retirement about 12 years ago.
And considering what has happened already with this file I can’t take any chances. Provided that they honor the court order, process and approve my claim, what happens to the money I would have gotten over the past 2 years since we were still married when he retired and elected the survivors annuity with me as the recipient? The court order was years after the fact. I have tried reading (and rereading) the Civil Service booklet but am still not clear on the matter of whether I will receive back payments. Also, who ends up being responsible for the 7 years that the annuity cost wasn’t being taken out of his retirement check?

( at May 11, 2018 12:24 am)
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Let me begin by saying I think you are very smart to have done such a thorough job when sending your request to OPM. To answer your questions, if they find you should have received the survivor benefit, it will be paid retroactive back to the date of death. Are you certain the cost of the survivor benefit was not taken from your former spouse’s retirement check? If you are due a retroactive benefit and there was no cost taken from his retirement check, they may try to get you to pay for the reduction that should have been in place since the cancellation, but would likely waive the overpayment upon appeal. Having said that, OPM is very particular about survivor annuities for former spouses in divorces that occur after retirement. Just because a survivor annuity was in the COAP that went to OPM, does not mean that it was honored by OPM. In these post-retirement divorces, OPM requires that a survivor annuity be EXPRESSLY ordered in the “first order dividing property.” Failures like this occur regularly. If the property settlement is silent to a survivor annuity, but the COAP that was sent to OPM awarded one, upon OPM’s review of the decree/PSA against the COAP, it would have been cancelled. OPM is very firm if that was the case. If you are truly right, and have no success when contacting OPM, your situation might best be fixed by contacting your Senator or Congressional Representative and have them contact OPM on your behalf.

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Answered on May 11, 2018 7:43 pm

Thank you. After your mention of COAP I did more research because, to be honest, I didn’t realize how deep the waters were that I’m trying to swim in…
I didn’t know what COAP meant. Hadn’t heard of it until now so thank you. I found the OPM website containing the R38-116 Handbook for Attorneys on Court-Ordered Retirements, Health Benefits and Life Insurance (under CSRS, FERS..) Thankfully, after reading the applicable sections and reviewing my court order, the lawyer did his job correctly. The court order is valid. So one of 2 things happened, they received it and later canceled it or they never received it after our divorce and canceled it. I’ll just have to wait until I get a reply back from them and go from there. As for whether they continued making deductions from his check after they canceled the survivors annuity I will have to wait and see… If, after having provided them with the valid court order they choose to deny it, I will definitely follow up on your advice. Just finding out about COAP and the OPM handbook have brought me a huge relief. Thank you again for your help!

( at May 11, 2018 11:40 pm)

Good luck!

( at May 12, 2018 12:00 am)
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Thank you!

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Answered on May 12, 2018 2:55 am