For ERS Tier 3 and 4 Members
(Articles 14 and 15)
Your beneficiary may be entitled to an ordinary death benefit in lieu of a monthly pension if you meet the eligibility requirements and your death is not attributable to an on-the-job accident. The first $50,000 of this benefit is paid in the form of group term life insurance, which is currently exempt from federal income tax. Your accumulated contributions are also payable to your beneficiary. The beneficiaries of active (not retired) members generally are not entitled to a monthly pension benefit.
An ordinary death benefit may be payable to your designated beneficiary if you have completed at least one year of service since last joining the Retirement System and your death occurs:
- While you are on the payroll;
- While you are on an authorized medical leave of absence (with or without pay);
- While you are receiving Workers’ Compensation or other employer-funded benefits, for up to two years (which may be extended for an additional two years) following the last date you were paid on the payroll, provided your employment has not been terminated by resignation, employer action, retirement, or any other means while receiving those benefits; or
- Within 12 months of the last date you were receiving salary, on an authorized medical leave of absence or receiving Workers’ Compensation or other employer-funded benefits, provided you were not otherwise gainfully employed or retired during that period.
The death benefit is equal to your earnings multiplied by your years of service, not to exceed three years of earnings. For example, if you die after one year of service, your beneficiary would receive a benefit equal to one year of your earnings; if you die after two years, your beneficiary would receive a benefit equal to two years of your earnings; and if you die after three or more years of service, your beneficiary would receive a benefit equal to three years of your earnings. The earnings are limited by Section 130 of the Civil Service Law.
If you are in service at age 61, your death benefit will be reduced by 4 percent and will be further reduced by 4 percent each year you continue to be in service, up to age 70. It will not be reduced below 60 percent of the ordinary death benefit payable.
If you joined before January 1, 2001, chose a different death benefit, and die while in active service, your beneficiary will be paid the greater of the two death benefits.
Out-of-Service Death Benefit
If you are a vested member with at least ten years of credited service, have not retired and you die more than one year after leaving public employment, 50 percent of the death benefit may still be payable. This benefit is also payable if you die within one year of leaving covered service but were gainfully employed during that time.
Your family or employer should notify us of your death as soon as possible so we can send the appropriate forms to your beneficiary.