Dachniwskyj v.Office of Pers. Mgmt., No. 11-3158 (Fed. Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Theresa was married to Myron when he retired from the federal government in 1989. Myron elected to receive a reduced annuity and named Theresa to receive a survivor annuity. In 1998, they divorced. Myron married Roksoliana. Myron received annual notices from the Office of Personnel Management explaining that if he wanted to provide survivor benefits to a spouse that he married after retirement, he had to send a signed request within two years after the date of marriage. In 2002 Myron sent a letter requesting survivor annuity benefits for Roksoliana. OPM denied Myron’s request as not submitted within two years of his marriage and instructed Myron to send his divorce decree to change or eliminate the survivor election previously made. In 2006 Myron sent the divorce decree and the certificate documenting his marriage to Roksoliana. OPM sent notification that his election to transfer full survivor benefits to his new spouse was effective immediately. Myron died in 2009. OPM granted Roksoliana benefits and denied Theresa’s application. An ALJ reversed; the Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding OPM’s annual notice insufficient to inform Myron of his rights and obligations and that the Board’s award to Theresa was not supported by substantial evidence.