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Denial of Spousal Annuity Claim Upheld Due to Valid Waiver

By FindLaw Staff on March 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Braza v. Office of Pers. Mgmt., No. 08-3174, the court faced a challenge to the Merit Systems Protection Board affirming a denial by the Office of the Personnel Management of a widow's claim for survivor annuity as the spouse of a deceased civil service employee. 

As stated in the decision:  "Mrs. Braza does not deny on appeal that she consented to her husband's election to provide her no survivor annuity.  She contends however, that her consent is not a valid waiver of her statutory right to an annuity as required by the statute."

However, in affirming the Board's decision to deny her claims, the court held that the widow waived her right to spousal annuity by completing and signing a written waiver form, and such written form waiver is valid absent fraud, duress, or mental incompetence.  Here, her lack of appreciation for her rights or for the effect of signing the form did not invalidate the waiver. 

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