Survivor Benefits

Death Before Retirement

Non-Duty Related Death of a Member in the Closed Plan or Year 2000 Plan

If you are vested and die before retirement, the spouse to whom you are married on the date of your death is eligible to receive survivor benefits. The monthly benefit will be paid for your spouse’s lifetime and will be based on the benefit you have accrued as of your date of death and calculated according to the joint & 100 percent survivor option.  Survivor payments begin the month following a member’s death.  An annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) is provided.

If you are vested and die before retirement and you have no eligible surviving spouse, a total of 80 percent of your monthly base benefit in equal shares will be paid to your eligible surviving children under age 21 (unless the child is totally incapacitated as determined by the judicial system). If a child is under 18 years of age, benefits will be payable to the surviving parent as natural guardian if such parent has custody or assumes custody of the child, or to the legal guardian of the child, until the child attains age 18. Thereafter, the benefit is paid to the child until age 21. An annual COLA is provided.

If you are vested and die before retirement and you have no eligible spouse and no eligible children under age 21, no monthly benefits are payable.

If you are not vested and die before retirement no monthly benefits are payable.

Non-Duty Related Death of a Member in the 2011 Tier

If you are an active, vested member of the 2011 Tier and die before retirement, the spouse to whom you are married on the date of your death is eligible to receive survivor benefits. The monthly benefit will be paid for your spouse’s lifetime and will be based on the benefit you have accrued as of your date of death and calculated according to the joint & 100 percent survivor option.  Survivor payments begin the month following a member’s death.  An annual COLA is provided.

If you are an active, vested member of the 2011 Tier and die before retirement and you have no eligible surviving spouse, a total of 80 percent of your monthly base benefit in equal shares will be paid to your eligible surviving children under age 21 (unless the child is totally incapacitated as determined by the judicial system). If a child is under 18 years of age, benefits will be payable to the surviving parent as natural guardian if such parent has custody or assumes custody of the child, or to the legal guardian of the child, until the child attains age 18. Thereafter, the benefit is paid to the child until age 21. An annual COLA is provided.

If you are a former vested member (i.e., not currently working for the state) of the 2011 Tier and die before retirement and you have a surviving spouse (or no spouse but eligible children under 21), your beneficiaries will start to receive their monthly survivor benefits on the date that you would have attained normal retirement eligibility.  The annual COLA will be paid on the second anniversary of the month the survivor payments started.

If you are a member of the 2011 Tier and die before retirement and there is no surviving spouse and no eligible children under 21, a monthly benefit will not payable. However, a refund of employee contributions will be paid to the designated beneficiary. If no beneficiaries are named, the refund will be paid as allowed by state law.

Duty-Related Death as a Member of the Closed Plan, Year 2000 Plan or 2011 Tier

If you die while actively employed and your death is determined to be duty-related by the board, the spouse to whom you are married on the date of your death, or your eligible surviving children under age 21, will receive a minimum survivor benefit equal to 50 percent of your final average pay. In the event of a duty-related death, there is no minimum service requirement.

If you are a member of the 2011 Tier and your death is duty-related and there is no surviving spouse and no eligible children under 21, a monthly benefit will not be payable.  However, a refund of employee contributions will be paid to the designated beneficiary.  If no beneficiary is named, the refund will be paid as allowed by state law.

Death After Retirement

At retirement, you must elect a benefit payment option on your Retirement Election Form. This election determines whether or not a benefit will be paid to anyone after your death. The payment option you select cannot be changed after your effective date of retirement, except under certain circumstances. Your spouse/beneficiary must apply for survivor benefits which will start the first of the month following your date of death.  An annual COLA will be provided.  If you are retired, please read our Survivor Benefits page.