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Munns v. Office of Personnel Management

Decided: August 19, 1993.

SIGRUN R. MUNNS, PETITIONER,
v.
OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the Merit Systems Protection Board. Docket No. DCO831920427-I-1

Before Nies, Chief Judge, Rader, and Schall, Circuit Judges.

Schall

SCHALL, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner, Sigrun R. Munns, seeks review of the final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board) in Docket No. DCO831920427-I-1, affirming the decision of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that Ms. Munns is not entitled to survivor annuity benefits under the Civil Service Retirement Spouse Equity Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-615, 98 Stat. 3195 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 5 U.S.C.) (CSRSEA). We affirm.

Discussion

I

Petitioner's late husband retired from federal service on June 29, 1973. He was unmarried at the time and elected a retirement annuity without survivor benefits. Mr. Munns married petitioner on June 5, 1975, and they remained married until his death in May of 1992.

In a January 21, 1992 letter to OPM, Mr. Munns first requested that survivor benefits be provided for his wife. On February 25, 1992, OPM denied the request because the requisite election had not been made within one year of the Munns' marriage. Following a request for reconsideration, OPM affirmed its initial decision that Mr. Munns' request to elect an annuity with survivor benefits was untimely filed. Mr. Munns appealed to the Board.

Before the Board, petitioner argued that the employing agency had misled Mr. Munns by suggesting that his initial election of retirement benefits was irrevocable. More specifically, petitioner argued that the retirement application, Standard Form (SF) 2801, which stated that "no change will be permitted after an annuity has been granted," omitted any provision notifying Mr. Munns of his right to elect a survivor annuity within one year of a post-retirement marriage.

In an initial decision sustaining OPM's decision, the administrative Judge found that Mr. Munns' attempted election was untimely, that OPM had no discretionary authority to waive the filing deadline, and that OPM's failure to notify Mr. Munns via SF 2801 of his post-retirement election right was insufficient grounds to waive the filing deadline. The full Board denied a petition for review, and this appeal followed.

II

Petitioner's right to a survivor annuity is governed by the statute in effect at the time of her marriage to Mr. Munns. Under the statute,

if an annuitant --

(B) who elected a reduced annuity provided in paragraph (2) of section ...


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