Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Denies BEDB to Estate of Federal Employee’s Spouse
A FERS-covered employee of the Department of Defense, with almost six years of civilian service to his credit, died on January 26, 2010. His wife, after the employee’s death, began an Application for Death Benefits, but died before signing and filing the application, on February 12, 2010. When she died, the employee’s wife was eligible for Basic Employee Death Benefits (“BEDB”) should she have submitted the application. Her son, the co-administrator of her estate, completed, signed, and filed an application for BEDB on her behalf. OPM concluded that the employee’s wife was not entitled to BEDB because of her failure to submit an application before her death. Her son sought reconsideration, arguing that his status as the co-administrator of her estate allowed him to act on her behalf, even after her death. Both the MSPB administrative judge and full Board disagreed with his position, and affirmed OPM’s decision to deny BEDB because, according to the Board, even if a spouse of a federal employee is entitled to BEDB upon the employee’s death, that spouse’s estate may not apply for those benefits on his or her behalf if the spouse has died before filing the application. The employee’s son appealed the decision. On September 12, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed OPM’s denial of BEDB.