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.

22 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
  4. Anne paduano

    Boy you want to talk about a mess. My daughter’s father who lived in Puerto Rico after his leave from Monroe County in New York passed away a year ago. The beneficiary is unknown to my daughter who was the only surviving beneficiary or other. She’s not sure what to do we can’t get any answers from New York State. There’s also back child support due to me I wish he stopped paying when he left New York and move to Puerto Rico. Can you help us

    Reply
    1. Anne paduano

      I mistakenly said the only surviving beneficiary. We don’t know who the beneficiary is because we can’t get anyone to tell us what to do next. Both his parents have passed and he had no home or money or bank account he was pretty much homeless.

      Reply
    2. NYSLRS

      We apologize for the difficulty you are having. Your message is important to us and we have sent you a private message in response.

      Reply
    3. NYSLRS

      We’ve been informed that one of our customer service representatives contacted you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

      Reply
  5. Craig Hill

    Working with a friend who’s father passed away. She got notice a notice saying she had the following

    Group Term Life Insurance 50k
    Taxable Contributions 14K
    Ordinary Death Benefit 120K

    Is only the 14k taxable?

    Reply
  6. Michael Chouinard

    My father in laws wife passed. Both were retired and she had “Pop-Up Joint Allowance-Full OP”. Father in law got a letter stating he can get a lump sum or monthly benefit. Is this in addition to his own retirement payout from NYSLRS and social security? It also does not list a time frame if he chooses the monthly benefit.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Receiving a benefit as a beneficiary will not affect your father in law’s NYSLRS pension. For answers to his NYSLRS benefit questions, your father in law can call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area).

      He should check with Social Security for questions about his Social Security benefit.

      Reply
  7. Jeff

    I’m a beneficiary for My father so retired from the state of New York. I was provided paper work showing that he was enrolled into joint pop-Up full allowance. The document shows a prorated amount plus survivor benefits. Are these paid monthly or is this a one time payment? Or is just the prorated amount a monthly payout and the survivor benefit just a one time payment? The lump sum statement has me confused. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We’re sorry for your loss.

      The Joint Pop-Up Full Allowance provides a lifetime benefit to a beneficiary. If you are the named beneficiary for this benefit, you will get a monthly payment for the rest of your life. That would be in addition to any one-time, lump sum survivor’s benefit you receive.

      For help with the paperwork you received, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990.

      Reply

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