Death Claim Benefits

Janet Bass: Good afternoon. Welcome to the
webcast on processing a claim for death benefits of the deceased federal employee. My name is Janet Bass. I’m the Chief of the
Survivor Claims Branch with Retirement Services here at OPM. Some of the objectives today that we hope
to accomplish are sharing information with you that is helpful in preparing a complete
and accurate death claim package for OPM, answering any questions that you may have
on processing a claim for death benefits of a deceased federal employee and, last but
not least, developing a dialogue with you in which we can partner to provide accurate
and timely benefits to the survivors and heirs of our colleagues who have served the federal
government. You may submit your questions to [email protected]
with the subject line of “Death Claims,” and we will provide individual responses within
36 hours, as well as publish our responses to all questions that were submitted during
the broadcast. Now, I’m going to turn it over to Lisa Rogers, who’s the Legal Administrative
Specialist in the Survivor Claims Branch and who processes deceased employee claims. Lisa will be delivering the presentation today.
I hope you enjoy. Lisa Rogers: Good afternoon. I need to ask
that you be patient with me, because the content of what I’m saying may not be on the sheets
that you’re reading, the same pages. I’m going to summarize everything, so I don’t have to
bore you reading it word for word. OPM is updating the information, because we
continue to receive a high percentage of cases that require further development before we
can authorize survivor payments. We are requesting help from agencies to reduce the processing
time it takes to adjudicate the death in service claims. This is a re-cap of information that OPM worked
on with the Department of Navy, but it also provides current information to the prior
BAL dated May 10th of 2000 titled “New Procedures to Expedite Payments to Spouses of Federal
Employees Who Have Died,” and the BAL that you’re reading from, which is BAL 09-102 dated
May 26th, 2009, with the same name. We still feel the Department of Navy guidelines
are very helpful and should be used by other agencies. We know that the procedures will
vary between the agencies, but the majority of the information this covers may be beneficial
and, if followed up, it will help OPM to expedite payments to the survivors. Please remember that submissions of complete,
accurate information and documentation are vitally important in order for OPM to adjudicate
the claims benefits in a timelier manner. It will help you, the agencies, and OPM, both
by decreasing phone calls and inquiries, if payments are being made sooner than we are
currently able to provide. Attached we have six different documents included that we will
be summarizing. We hope the documents serve as models for
all federal agencies to utilize upon the death of a federal employee. Thank you for your
continued hard work and support. Attachment 1 is “General Instructions to the
Agency.” Attachment 2 will be “Summary of Benefits Checklist.” Attachment 3 is “The
Preliminary Information to OFEGLI.” Attachment 4 is “The Election Regarding the Method of
Payment for Unpaid Compensation.” Attachment 5 will show “CSRS and FERS Death-In-Service
Quick Pay Sheets,” and Attachment 6 is “The Employee Death Case Summary.” For Attachment 1, “Processing the Death of
a Federal Employee, General Instructions,” normally, it’s the current spouse or a family
member of the deceased employee that notifies the agency of the death. There are a number
of documents the survivor needs to complete, which the agency can assist with to insure
the survivor receives their benefits in a more timely manner. Attached to this information are primary references
to help the agency representatives and most of the forms can be found on OPM’s website. For phase one, “Initial Contact with the Survivor,”
you want to place a call to the spouse or other survivors who notified the agency of
the death and make sure to convey your sympathy. Make sure you provide your name, your email
address, your phone number and print legibly. We do receive a lot of feedback from survivors
saying they cannot contact an agency. They have no way of knowing who they’re working
with, who’s the person handling their claim, because this was not provided and we, at OPM,
cannot read it either. Make sure when you contact this person, you
get their general information. You can use on the Quick Pay forms, and provide them with
information such as CSRS or FERS benefits, the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance,
unpaid compensation, health benefits, and the Thrift Savings Plan, if these apply. You want to explain timeframes. If FERS, please
explain the Basic Employee Death Benefit, if they’re entitled to it. These are available to the survivors and they
have multiple options. As a survivor filling out the basic employee death benefit election,
which is page 15 of the 3104b, you need to help them fill this out making sure that they
are included with the death claim packages because if they are not included, it will
cause a delay. We will have to develop for those. Please keep in mind that a rollover of the
basic employee death benefit to the thrift savings plan has to be the survivor’s own
account as an employee currently. It cannot be a surviving account as a beneficiary. Finally, you need to establish a timeframe
for counseling after you review the OPF. If the death was work related, make sure you’ve
contacted the human resources office or worker’s compensation office if this has not already
been done. You want to request the OPF. If this is not
received within four days, you want to follow up on that original request. If you’re unable
to get it after that, please elevate the request. When the OPF is received you want to review
the OPF for the health benefit information, for the federal employee group life insurance
information, the thrift savings plan, unpaid compensation, and if needed any worker’s compensation
claims. Then you’re going to process it as indicated coming up in phase two. Verify if there are any designations in the
OPF. Please make sure that all designations are sent to OPM. If it is a CSRS designation
or a FURS designation, please send all designations to us. Phase two is “Review of the OPF.” The first
one is the federal group employee life insurance. If the deceased employee was enrolled in OFEGLI,
you want to review the OPF for the current options, their effective dates, and the actual
coverage amounts. Prepare an SF 2821, which is an agency certification
of insurance, with the correct information and supply any forms that OFEGLI’s needed
for that part. On this 2821, pages one and two go to the
OFEGLI and page three remains in the OPF. You want to prepare the 2819, which is Notice
of Conversion Privileges only if there are option C benefits available for the family
coverage. This is also sent to OFEGLI. You will send part one to the survivor with a
condolence letter and then you’ll put part two in the OPF. You’re going to send all original SF 2823s
or SF 54s, which are Designation of Beneficiary forms, the RA 7610, which is Assignment of
FEGLI, and the court orders that are in the OPF. Also send all original 2818s and 176s
from the OPF but keep the original forms you are sending from OFEGLI as a copy. Make sure
you put those back in the OPF. Basically, to sum that up, you’re going to
send all original life insurance forms, court orders, and a death certificate if provided
to OFEGLI but you’re going to keep copies of everything for the OPF. Your complete preliminary information to OFEGLI
regarding the death of an employee by following the attachment three of this bow and assemble
according to the information you can see on this page. These forms are then going to be forwarded
to the address in Scranton, PA. Please make note that as of April 1st, 2014 this is the
new address for overnight deliveries. For number two, the retirement system, you’re
going to verify the current retirement coverage. Please make sure that if it is a FERCCA situation,
you will provide counseling for the survivor pertaining to any FERCCA case. You want to
verify the surface computation date for processing of the CSRS claims. Again, make sure that all designations are
out of the OPF. Keep in mind that CSRS designations are only valid if they are received and validated
by OPM prior to the death of the employee. They are never to be maintained in the OPF. These are to be forwarded immediately to OPM
upon completion from the employee. If any CSRS desis are received after death, they
are not considered valid and will not be used. Determine if military service is involved.
If this service is after 1956, has a deposit been made for the service or do they even
want to make one? If it has been paid, we need to make sure that the payment has been
sent to OPM. We need to know if the survivor is entitled to a monthly survivor benefit,
and if all DD214s are being forwarded to OPM. If the DD214s are not in the OPF, you need
to request this from the survivor. Delaying in requesting these will cause OPM to have
to devote for them and, again, it will cause a delay in the case. If the employee’s was CSRS or CSRS offset,
you’ll use the Application for Death Benefits, which is section two of the SF 2800A. If it’s
a FERS case, you’ll use section four of the 3104B for the election opportunities for the
military. You’re going to want to compute both cases
with and without the military to show the survivor if making a deposit is to their advantage
or not. This way, they make an informed decision. If the surviving spouse is unsure of their
entitlement to a survivor military benefit, you’ll need to complete the RI 25-45, the
Verification of Military Retired Pay Status for Survivors of Deceased Federal Employees.
A copy of this form should be sent to OPM for each case that involves military retirement
pay whether the survivor is entitled or not. We do need a copy of this. Again, delaying
in sending this with it will cause a delay in our processing. If under CSRS, please remember to advise a
survivor to contact the Social Security Administration to determine if their benefits will affect
our survivor benefits that we are going to pay them. Their number is listed on there
along with their website. If the survivor is electing to make the deposit,
you’re going to need to complete the application, which is SF 2803 for CSRS and a 3108 for FERS.
You’re going to send that application with a copy of the RI 20-97, which is Estimated
Earnings During Military Service. Again, all DD214s, if not in there, please
request one from the survivor, and an estimate to the agencies payroll provider. Include
a copy of all of these forms of the information you’re sending so that it will be forwarded
to OPM. All deposits must be made in a lump sum payment,
monthly payments or any other type of payments will not be accepted and please stress to
the survivor, “Do not forward these payments to OPM,” because we do not process them. It
will delay it. We will have to return it and then, it will
be forwarded to the proper payroll provider. If a partial payment was made from the employee
at the time of death, or prior to the time of death, a survivor does not want to finish
making that payment, they can request a refund of that by writing into the office. All payments that are paid in full need to
have a pay card sent to OPM Retirements Operation Center as soon as it has been paid. You’ll
want to complete section one of SF 2800A or 3104B, the Certified Summary of Service. If
there is an eligible survivor or child for monthly benefit, prepare an estimate including,
again, deposits for the military service, if applicable. You’ll compute, again, both with and without,
so they can make the informed decision. If there are children between the ages of 18
and 22, and are full-time students, you’ll send the RI 25-41, which is the Initial Certification
of Full-Time School Attendance, to the student, spouse or guardian. Please make sure to indicate that these are
per semester only forms. Do not combine spring with fall or fall with spring, because each
semester has to be certified individually. Also, keep in mind that benefits for children
between the ages of 18 and 22, student benefits may be impacted by minor children who are
receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration. This is going to be described
further in page three of Attachment two. If no survivors are eligible for an annuity
or a Basic Employee Death Benefit, no computation is needed. A lump sum of the payments for
the contributions and interest will be paid out according to the order of precedence. Federal Employee Health Benefits. If the deceased
carried self and family, and there is an eligible survivor, you will remove all the health benefit
forms, any medical certificates and documentation from the OPF. Make copies of these forms and
send them with a death package, but keep originals in the OPF. Remember that children between the ages of
22 and 26 are now eligible to continue coverage as a dependent if someone else is eligible
for that coverage. If the deceased was in self-only coverage, you have to terminate
the self-only benefits by completing the SF 2810. This is done by the agency who will put remarks
in the section showing “Enrollee Died” and their date of death. The effective date to
terminate is the last day of the pay period in which the employee died. Make sure to mail copies to the appropriate
agencies, keeping a copy, Number four, for the OPF. The termination of self-only coverage
has to be done by the agency and not by OPM. We will send you a 79-09 requesting this be
done. We are getting quite a lot of these that are not done. If a minor child or children are eligible
for health benefits under the FERS, please have the parent or guardian complete Health
Benefits Election part, which is section three, page six on the 3104B, so the benefits can
begin immediately. If the deceased had no coverage at the time of death, leave all the
health benefit forms in the OPF. The next page is dealing with the Thrift Savings
Plan. There are instructions given here, but any questions should be handled by the Thrift
Savings Office and their number is there and their website. OPM is unable to assist with
information, because we do not know their rules and regulations. The following page is where unpaid compensation
is explained. Again, because agencies have their own regulations, you will need to follow
up with your agency to determine what those are to verify that you’re processing this
correctly. Like Thrift Savings, OPM does not handle the
unpaid compensation, so you need to deal directly with these agencies, your individual agency,
for the answers. Just make sure that the Thrift Savings Plan form and the unpaid compensation
forms do not come to OPM. This will, again, cause a delay in their processing,
because we do not handle these forms. They will be returned for them to process. On phase three, “Sending the Condolence Letter
to the Survivor,” complete and send the Summary of Benefits Checklist, which is attachment
two with a condolence letter, all the applicable forms and annuity estimates to the survivor.
The estimate, again, is depending on if there are civilian or military deposits to be considered. You’ll send both runs of those payments. Send
one complete appropriate package for each survivor who may eligible for benefits. Make
sure to keep in touch with the survivor to answer any questions they may have. Please include your name, phone number, email,
contact information and please make it legible, so that they can read it and they know who
they’re dealing with. This will also help OPM when we receive a package to be able to
contact someone that we need help with. Phase four is to complete the OPM’s Quick
Pay. If there’s a current spouse eligible for annuity, the preferred method of sending
the Quick Pay form is the OPM’s online application. The OPM address is listed for you to refer
to and please note, the Quick Pay is to be used to notify OPM of the death as a means
to determine the spouse’s eligibility for interim payments, but not solely for the notification
of death. If you don’t want to do the online method, you can complete and a fax a CSRS
or FERS Quick Pay form which is attachment number five of this BAL, and you can fax it
to the two numbers listed here for OPM’s office. Also note that the form has been revised as
of May 2014. Previous and/or altered editions from the form are not usable and will be returned. Phase number five, “Prepare the SF50.” You’re
going to create and process the SF50, which is the Notification of Personnel Action, after
the death. The SF50 allows the Payroll Office to cut
the final payroll card showing as a death payment. If this is not finished when the
package is ready to be sent to the Payroll Office, forward it as soon as possible, so
that that can be sent to OPM in a timely manner. Phase number six is “Follow-up with the Survivors,
or Survivors, if Necessary.” If there is no response from the survivor within 10 days,
you should try to contact them again to make sure that they don’t need assistance returning
their completed forms. Phase number seven is “Mailing Retirement
Documents to OPM via Payroll Office.” You want to forward all prepared required documentation
to OPM via the Payroll Office, but make sure you keep copies of everything you’re sending,
all the paperwork in the case file. This will assist OPM later if some of the paperwork
happens to be not returned with the death package. Sometimes, they get lost, shuffled, mixed,
but this will help us to be able to get, at least, a copy of what you originally sent.
Include the preliminary info to the OPM regarding the death of an employee, the final SF50,
the Certified Summary of Service, agency information and certification, all original designation
forms, copies of all the health benefits forms in the OPF and then, payroll performance required
actions and submit the entire package to us. Hopefully, it’s the entire completed package.
Please remember that much like retirements, we do need you to submit the application with
all the records. One without the other will delay the processing. It is essential that OPM and Payroll Office
communicate with each other on the death of the employee. What we have found is that one
office is not always communicating with the other and has not been informed of the death.
As a result, we see untimely submissions of the package. Phase number eight is mail the claim form
for unpaid compensation to the Payroll Office. Again, since this is not an OPM function,
you will need to regard your agency’s regulations in order to accomplish this. Please do not
forward this information to OPM. On phase nine, you’ll close the case. Make
sure all action items are updated and closed. Then, you can shred your working folder, not
the OPF. Never shred the OPF, just your working folder after six months of the date of the
last activity. Hopefully, OPM will not need documentation
from it, because we have been able to get a complete package for processing and that
has been the goal of this whole process. The Primary References. This page shows that
you can refer to the information given below as guidance for the processing of benefits
of the federal employee. It can be used a handy guide when needed to make the process
easier for you. It covers everything from Federal Employee Health Benefits, Federal
Employee Group Life Insurance, court orders, the CSRS and FERS Handbook, and applications
and forms used. For Attachment two, the Summary of Benefits
Checklist upon the Death of a Federal Employee. This information is to be filled out using
everything that applies and provided to the survivor as a guidance. It also provides information
they can refer to receive the benefits they are eligible for. It deals with Federal Employee
Group Life Insurance coverage and provides a mailing address and phone number for that
office. It also gives information on how those payments
are distributed and it will indicate if there’s family coverage or even what type of life
insurance is available to them. Please make sure that coverage when filling this out is
correct. Benefits From the Retirement System — the
Survivor Annuity and Lump Sum Benefits. This page needs filled out based on whether the
deceased was a CSRS or a FERS employee. Please mark the appropriate block that shows the
survivor what they are or, in some cases, what they are not eligible for. Fill out the estimated Basic Employee Death
Benefit amount if needed. Also, keep in mind that the 3104’s most recent addition has been
revised as of May 2013. Computation of Survivor Annuity. This page
also needs filled out according to what the survivor is entitled to. Indicate the appropriate
blocks as to what pertains for the benefit. Again, make sure that the name, phone number,
email address and contact information you provide is legible and is included. This will
assist the survivor in getting hold of the agency and give OPM a proper contact if needed. Monthly Benefits for Children. This page is
filled out according to what any child or children may be entitled to and it should
be provided to the survivors only if needed. Do not give it to them if they have no children
eligible. Please be aware that the rates for 2104 are currently $502 per child up to a
maximum of $1,506 per family, for the single orphan rate. It’s $601 per child up to a maximum of $1,803
for the double orphan rate for the family. If there are any children eligible for benefits,
we will need a copy of each child’s birth certificate. It should show the deceased’s
name. Also, make sure to indicate to the survivor by checking the block for them to apply to
the Social Security Administration, if needed. This has to be done in order for us to determine
if a minor child is payable or not. Last reminder, if there is a student child who may be eligible
after taking into account any minor child’s benefits from the Social Security Office,
the RI 25-41, School Attendance Form, still needs to be filled out. But, again, do not combine spring with fall
and fall with spring semesters. They have to have each their own certified form. Forms to File for Benefits from the Retirement
System. Indicate on this page, again, whether it’s CSRS or FERS and whether the CSRS or
FERS application is needed by checking the appropriate block. Also, make sure the survivor
knows if the deceased had any prior marriages during the time of employment with the federal
government that they need to send a copy of each divorce, including all pages, attachments,
settlements, all pages of each divorce for each spouse need forwarded to OPM. Failure to do this will cause a delay, because
OPM is unable to pay a current spouse’s benefits until we determine the eligibility of any
former spouse. Also, stress to the survivor, they need to provide us with copies of the
marriage certificate for the current spouse and the death certificate indicating the manner
of death. It cannot say, “Pending.” If it says, “Pending,”
we will request an amended death certificate. Note that any widow or widower who is entitled
to benefits for themselves who also has a child or children eligible, you only need
to fill out one application. If that child is an adult, a disabled child or student child
that would like the funds in their own name, they will then need to fill out their own
application. If they are a student, they will be the ones
to sign the RI 25-41 Student Certification Form. Status of Processing Benefits by OPM. This
page provides information by which to contact OPM. It indicates, “Please allow sufficient
time for OPM to process your application.” Our goal is currently 60 days from receipt
of a complete package. Again, remember, we are much like retirements
in that we need to have both the entire death package and application. One without the other
will cause a delay. The Thrift Savings Plan. This page needs to
be marked by according to what the survivor is eligible for. Please stress the importance
of contacting the Thrift Savings Office if you want to enroll the Basic Employee Death
Benefit over into the Thrift Savings Plan. This account has to be their own active federal
account as an employee and it cannot be a beneficiary account based on the deceased
being their spouse. If they would like to roll these funds over, they need to apply
using the Thrift Savings Plan 60 Form. This, and any further information, can be
provided by the Thrift Savings Plan at their contact number given at that page. For unpaid
compensation, this page is, again, filled out by each agency according to their own
guidelines. Please make sure that you’ve stressed these
forms are not to be sent to OPM and you can do this by filling out the appropriate agency
address at the bottom of the page. Again, please do not put OPM’s address at the bottom
of the page. Federal Employee’s Health Benefits. Please
mark the appropriate block on this page as to what coverage may or may not be available
to the survivor. If there is only self coverage benefit at the time of death, remember to
terminate that coverage. This was explained in the prior BAL, but,
again, we are still receiving a lot of these that are not done. It will be returned to
you asking with a 79-9 for you to terminate it. Additional Information. This page is basically
a re-cap of the information that is possibly needed by OPM to process the survivor benefits.
It covers information for the current spouse, the former spouse, children, parents of the
deceased and the executor of the deceased’s estate. Please review each group and make sure to
stress that all pages of any documentation needs to be sent to OPM, if appropriate. Not
providing all pages when needed will cause a delay in your benefits. Questions. This page is self-explanatory.
It provides information as to go, where to get help. As it indicates in the note on the
bottom, you can visit the OPM website where most claim forms can be found and downloaded. All questions that are received during this
webinar will be addressed online for your information. Attachment three, this page consists of information
regarding OFEGLI. Please fill out completely the appropriate lines and make sure to indicate
which forms and documentation you attach. Page number four, this, again, is a page for
unpaid compensation. You will need to fill it out according to your own agency’s guidelines. Attachment number five, these are the CSRS
and FERS Death-In-Service Quick Pay Sheets, revised May of 2014. Please make sure to fill
out completely and with accurate information where necessary. Lack of information on this
form will cause OPM to not be able to provide interim payments to the survivor. Also, remember,
previous editions or modifications will not be accepted. OPM will return the form and not process the
interim payment. Attachment six, this is the Employee Death
Case Summary. It will detail all the steps you took to process the completed Death-In-Service
claim. It’s a good tool to use to verify all the information required has been included.
It will help you make sure that nothing has been missed in completing the death package
when being sent in. Please keep a copy of this record in your
OPF, so information, if needed further down the road, can be received and we’ll be able
to tell what was originally done. This concludes the presentation portion. Now,
we’re going to have Janet Bass back to provide some closing remarks. Thank you. Janet: As Lisa said, this concludes our presentation
today. I do want to make you all aware that, unfortunately, due to technical difficulties,
we were not able to field questions during the live stream. However, we have been receiving
your questions at [email protected], and we will be responding to those, as I said earlier,
individually and then posting all questions with a response out on the web for you. Just as a reminder, I would ask you to please
continue to use your network within your internal agency to the benefit officers, and as well
to use the resource that we have here at OPM, our benefit officers’ training and development
group led by Sharon Appel, for any case inquiries or things of that nature. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the presentation
today and we look forward to hearing from you.

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