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It‚Äôs tempting to come up with an exhaustive checklist for this topic since I‚Äôm a dedicated checklist person, but there‚Äôs really only ONE thing your primary survivor needs to do when you die: contact whoever was ‚Äúpaying‚ÄĚ you at the time of your death and let them know you‚Äôve died.
This holds true regardless of who your primary survivor is: a spouse, adult child, partner, etc. The professionals will take it from there.
If you were still working when you died, the ‚Äúpaying‚ÄĚ party would be your employing office. Your survivor should contact your supervisor or HR. It‚Äôs wise to make sure your primary survivor always has a current phone number for a reliable contact at work.
If you were retired when you died, the ‚Äúpaying‚ÄĚ party is OPM, and your survivor should notify OPM Retirement Services as soon as possible. OPM can be contacted about the death of a retiree these ways:
Whoever contacts OPM should have the deceased‚Äôs full name and CSA or Social Security Number handy.
Benefits payable in connection with your death may include any or all of the following:
In all cases, the potential beneficiaries must file claim forms for the various benefits. Professionals in the ‚Äúpaying offices‚ÄĚ (HR at your employing agency or OPM) will review your records, determine what benefits are payable, and provide the forms necessary to claim the benefits. The employing agency, OPM, and OFEGLI will determine the appropriate beneficiary(ies) for retirement benefits, life insurance, and unpaid compensation. TSP will determine the beneficiary(ies) of TSP funds. These beneficiary determinations will usually be based on the Standard Order of Precedence for federal benefits.
The professionals at the employing office or OPM will assist the beneficiaries with completing and submitting the claim forms or will direct the beneficiaries to the appropriate offices for assistance. They will initiate (or advise on) changes to the federal health insurance enrollment, as needed. They will also provide current contact information for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and Social Security.
In the long run, whether you died while still working or were already retired, your survivor(s) will have to deal with Social Security directly. If it is believed that Social Security benefits might be payable immediately or in the future, survivor(s) can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or go to their website at https://www.ssa.gov/ for information or to apply for benefits.
Your survivors will need numerous certified copies of your death certificate. My recommendation (based on more than 30 years of handling death cases) is to request at least five (5) certified copies, and I would encourage your survivor(s) to request ten (10) certified copies. Many organizations still require a hard copy certified death certificate, and it‚Äôs easiest to get them up front and have them available.