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Order of Precedence. A CSRS designation of beneficiary is used to designate who is to receive any lump sum benefit payable from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund upon your death. It does not affect the right of any person who is eligible for survivor annuity benefits. If you do not designate a beneficiary, benefits will be paid to:

  • Your widow or widower
  • If none, to your child or children (descendants of a deceased child may qualify
  • If none of the above, to your parents in equal shares or all to the surviving parent
  • If none of the above, to the administrator or executor of your estate
  • If none of the above, to your next of kin as determined under the laws of the State in which you live.

Designation to a Trust. You can designate a person or institution as a trustee under the terms of a trust agreement to receive the CSRS benefits upon your death. There are two types of trust - inter vivos trust (one that you establish during your lifetime) and testamentary trust (one that you create by your will at death).

Importance of Accurate Designation of Beneficiary. If you complete an SF 2808 Designation of Beneficiary it is your responsibility to ensure that it remains accurate and reflects your intentions. Benefits will be paid based on a valid designation, regardless of whether that designation still reflects your intentions. You may want to consider completing a new designation form whenever you have a significant change in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, or death. A divorce does not invalidate a designation that names your former spouse as beneficiary. You need to complete a new SF 2808 to remove a former spouse. You need to keep your designated beneficiaries' addresses current. If you do not, the Office of Personnel Management may not be able to locate your beneficiary, and therefore benefits will not be paid to that person. The preferred way is to file a new designation of beneficiary whenever a beneficiary's address (or name) changes.


  1. Complete an SF 2808, Designation of Beneficiary in duplicate. Be sure to carefully read all the instructions on form. Be sure your signature is witnessed by two people that are not named as a beneficiary.
  2. To make sure that designations to trusts are clear and to allow quick identification of the entitled party, it is recommended that you use suggested formats for the  intervivos trust and the testamentary trust. To be valid, the trustee designation must be attached to and made a part of the SF 2808 Designation of Beneficiary form. The SF 2808 should state "See attached" in the space for the designation.
  3. Mail the original SF 2808 and duplicate to the Office of Personnel Management at the address listed on the form.  To be a valid designation of beneficiary the SF 2808 must be properly completed and received by the Office of Personnel Management prior to your death. Do not send the SF 2808 to the Civilian Benefits Center.
  4. OPM will certify the SF 2808 and send you a copy of the certified form.
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