Know Your Benefits: Death Benefits

Few people like to discuss dying, but it’s important to think about how those we love will get along when we do. NYSLRS members have important considerations to keep in mind. First, depending on the pension payment option you choose, you could leave behind an ongoing pension. But, beyond that, your loved ones may also receive a death benefit.

This post is an overview of common death benefits and how your survivors should file for them. It is important to review your retirement plan booklet for specific benefit and eligibility information, and to contact us with any questions you have.

Benefits

Most members who die while they’re still working will leave their beneficiaries what’s called an ordinary death benefit. The benefit amount is usually one year of your earnings per year of service, up to a maximum of three years. Depending on your system, tier and retirement plan, other limitations apply.

Generally, to qualify, you must have at least one year of service credit, and you must die while you are on payroll, in public service. Check your plan booklet for other qualifying circumstances.

Ordinary Death Benefit Graphic

Some members who die in an on-the-job accident (not due to their own willful negligence) might leave their spouses or other survivors an accidental death benefit. If paid to a surviving spouse or dependent parent, the benefit is a lifetime pension based on 50 percent of your final average salary (less any workers’ compensation benefit). There is no minimum service credit requirement.

Depending on your system, tier and retirement plan, there may be other benefits you leave your loved ones. For example, beneficiaries of Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) members who died after meeting the requirements for a service retirement may receive an alternative death benefit. Most Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members, who retire from service or within a year of leaving public employment, will leave their beneficiaries a post-retirement death benefit.

Filing

Regardless of which death benefit you leave, benefits can’t be paid until we’re notified of your death. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your family now about your benefits and how to report your death to NYSLRS. Check out our Getting Your Affairs in Order and A Guide for Survivors publication for more helpful information.

Update Your Beneficiaries

In most cases (unless beneficiaries are determined by law, as in the case of accidental death benefits), your death benefit will be paid to the beneficiaries you designated at some point in the past, so it’s important to be sure yours are up to date. Your beneficiaries are listed on your Member Annual Statement. You can also view and update your beneficiaries using Retirement Online. Just register and sign in to view your designations and submit changes.

12 thoughts on “Know Your Benefits: Death Benefits

  1. Jeanne Ritter

    Why does it take 12-16 weeks to receive death benefits for a New York State employee, after a certified copy of the death certificate has been sent/received/scanned and sent back?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We recommend that you email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal information.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry for the trouble. Unfortunately, the NYSLRS social media team doesn’t have access to your retirement account information.

      To get the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      You can also contact our Call Center at 1-866-805-0990 (518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area). The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

      Reply
  2. Raya Marie Beacom

    I been waiting on paper work to fill. Out. My sister cleared account. But finally paid it back. Who can i talk to to expedite this.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      To get the account-specific information you need, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      You can also contact our Call Center at 1-866-805-0990 (518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area). The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am – 5:00 pm.

      Reply
      1. James M Spencer

        I am a tier 4 member with 38 years of service and 55 years old. I plan on working a few more years. Will my spouse receive my pension benefits if I die before retiring?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          Generally, your spouse won’t receive a pension unless you retire and choose a pension payment option that provides an ongoing pension for a beneficiary. However, depending on your retirement plan, if you die before retiring, your beneficiary may be eligible for one or more of the death benefits discussed above.

          If you have account-specific questions, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      A post-retirement death benefit would be a percentage of your in-service death benefit. To learn how post-retirement benefits are calculated, please read recent blog post about death benefits.

      If you are still working, the amount of your in-service death benefit, as of March 31, 2019, will be listed in your 2019 Member Annual Statement. We are in the process of distributing these statements and distribution should be completed by the end of July.

      If you are retired, you can contact our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com) to find out your amount. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions about your post-retirement death benefit. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  3. Hillary

    My mother died in 2017 and the death was reported several days later. I was not aware of the death benefit and was advised by your office more than a year later it existed. I filled out the forms and sent them back the same week I received them. Her account was vetted when she died in 2017, and any monies owed was paid. Why does it take four months to receive death benefits? Any funeral expenses paid had to be handled back then with no help from death benefits. Please advise as to why this process takes so long considering that my mother has been deceased for more than a year.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We are sorry for your loss. The NYSLRS social media team does not have access to your personal account information but you contact our customers service representatives for that information. They will be able to answer your specific question about death benefit payment. Please email our representatives using the secure contact form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      Reply

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