Can minor children receive survivor benefits from a federal pension if both parents are deceased?

By Carolyn Grimes
December 02, 2016

There is more or less an automatic minor-child benefit if a parent dies in service and isn't even drawing the pension yet. It's used to name your children, make sure they're listed on your beneficiary pages, and it's a small amount that's paid until the children reach the age of majority in their jurisdiction, which in Virginia is 18. You can name the children in the divorce. Let's say the husband's the employee and the wife would be the ex-spouse. If they want to name the children as the survivor beneficial in the pension instead of the wife, they can. Typically, you don't do that because the children generally will have aged out of consideration by that point in time, and if the wife is alive, she would trump the children. It's rare. You can do it. It's generally not recommended.

Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit

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December 02, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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