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Report a Death

[See also “Survivor Benefits Package” under “Retiree/Annuitant Information” in “FORMS”, and “Death Benefits” in Ask RNet (FAQ’s)]

Procedures to Follow to Claim Benefits upon the Death of an Annuitant or Spouse

1. Notify the Department of State immediately. Call or e-mail the HR Service Center at 1-866-300-7419 (Toll Free) or 1-843-308-5539 (Outside the U.S.), or HRSC@state.gov. Please inform the HRSC if the deceased had been working under the Reemployed Annuitant (WAE) Program. The Service Center cannot accept a collect telephone call; please provide the customer service representative with the full name of the deceased annuitant, date of birth, exact date of death, address, social security number, and relationship of the person(s) who may be entitled to survivor benefits.  The caller will also be asked to supply his/her name and area code/telephone number.  Or, you can submit a letter or written report to:  U.S. Department of State, HR Service Center, Annuitant Services, 1999 Dyess Avenue, Building E, Charleston, SC 29405. 

Notifying the State Department immediately enables us to begin promptly to assist the person(s) entitled to survivor benefits.  On receipt of this information, the records of the deceased annuitant will be examined and an application will be sent to the person(s) entitled to benefits. Information will also be provided on benefits from the Foreign Service Retirement Systems (FSRDS or FSPS), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB).

2. Return any uncashed annuity checks to the Retirement Accounts Division (RAD), if there is no surviving spouse: RAD, Department of State, 1969 Dyess Avenue, Building B, Charleston, SC 29405 (Telephone: 843-308-5273, or e-mail: PayHelp@state.gov).  Any accrued annuity owed to the annuitant on the date of death will be included in the benefits to the eligible survivor annuitant(s).

3. Complete and return the application for death benefits form as soon as possible.  The Department will send the necessary forms to the survivor/executor/personal representative as soon as we learn of the death of the Foreign Service annuitant.  When you complete these documents, send them with a certified copy of the death certificate, to: U.S. Department of State, HR Service Center, Annuitant Services, 1999 Dyess Avenue, Building E, Charleston, SC 29405. If you have question, call or e-mail the HR Service Center at 1-866-300-7419 (Toll Free) or 1-843-308-5539 (Outside the U.S.), or HRSC@state.gov.

4.  Retain several certified copies of the annuitant’s death certificate. In addition to the copy sent to the Departmentof State, other copies will be required for the FEGLI (life insurance) coverage, each private insurance coverage policy, and any other claims submitted by the survivor/executor/personal representative.

The death certificate provides positive proof of the exact date of death. If other evidence is needed, it will be specifically requested. (This may include copies of marriage certificates, birth certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates of deceased children or spouses, court orders for change in name, or other documents which establish identity or relationship.)

When an Employee Dies While Still in Service

Death in Service of an Employee Covered by FSRDS. If an employee enrolled in FSRDS dies with at least 18 months of civilian service retirement credit a surviving spouse or former spouse will be entitled to an annuity.  The employee must have been married to a surviving spouse for at least nine months (or the cause of death was accidental) or to a former spouse who qualifies for an annuity.  The maximum survivor annuity payable to both the spouse and former spouse cannot exceed 55 percent of the annuity that would have been payable if the employee were eligible for retirement benefits at the time of death. 

Death in Service of an Employee Covered by FSPS. If an FSPS participant dies in service with at least ten years of retirement credit including 18 months of civilian service retirement credit the surviving spouse (and/or former spouse) will be entitled to an annuity.   The spouse must have been married to the employee for at least nine months, or the employee's cause of death must have been accidental.  The maximum survivor annuity payable to the spouse and former spouse combined cannot exceed 50 percent of the annuity payable to the employee if s/he had been eligible for voluntary retirement benefits on the date of death. 

If an FSPS participant dies in service with at least 18 months of civilian service, the surviving spouse or former spouse will also be entitled to a FSPS Basic Employee Death Benefit.  This benefit is either 50 percent of the final basic salary or 50 percent of average pay, if higher, plus $15,000 adjusted for cost of living (COLA). 

To be eligible for death benefits the spouse must have been married to the employee for at least nine months or the employee's cause of death must have been accidental.  A former spouse must have qualified for an annuity under the usual criteria (unless superseded by a court order or spousal agreement), i.e. minimum ten years of marriage, five years of which were while in the Foreign Service, and no remarriage before reaching age 55.