FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) Regarding SWAR

Q. How can my new spouse receive a benefit?
If you marry after you leave Active Service, your Spouse is not automatically eligible to receive survivor benefits when you die. Your new Spouse will be entitled to a benefit only if you choose a special option. That option is called Spouse Wed After Retirement – or SWAR.

Q: How do I choose SWAR ?

For your Spouse to become eligible to receive survivor benefits, you must:

  • Choose a reduced pension for yourself that then provides a 50% death benefit to your surviving Spouse.
  • Choose this option within one year after your marriage.

Q: How does this benefit work?

Your pension benefit is reduced based on your age and your Spouse's age.

  • On your death, your spouse will receive a survivor's benefit that is 50% of your reduced benefit.
  • After you choose this option, you cannot change it.
  • You must have incurred 12 reduced monthly payments before the SWAR goes into effect. If you die within the 12 month qualifying period, the option becomes void and your spouse will not be eligible for the 50% SWAR. The total amount of the benefit reduction resulting from the SWAR election will be refunded to your designated beneficiary.
  • The minimum benefit provision does not apply to benefits your Spouse receives under SWAR.

Q: Is 50% the highest benefit I can purchase for my spouse?

No. You can take an additional reduction to elect the 100% J&S Option for your spouse.

Q: Is the SWAR option right for me?

Each person is different, so you will need to know the facts and decide what is right for you and your Spouse. First, you need to know how much your pension benefit would be reduced under this option. A Retirement Counselor can provide you written estimates of the reduced amount and explain the factors to consider in making your decision.