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NYS Comptroller

Thomas P. DiNapoli

Death Benefits — Retirees

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If you are a NYSLRS retiree, your beneficiaries may be entitled to receive death benefits. (If you are not retired, please visit the Death Benefits — Members page.) Certain pension payment options provide a lifetime benefit to a beneficiary. Your beneficiary(ies) may also be entitled to a Post-Retirement Death Benefit, and, if you were employed by New York State, a Survivor’s Benefit.

When you die, your survivors should contact us as soon as possible. We’ll also need a certified death certificate. We’ll mail information about death benefits, and any needed forms, to your beneficiaries. For more information, read our publication, Getting Your Affairs in Order and A Guide for Survivors.

Pension Payment Option

When you retired, you chose a pension payment option. All of the options provide a lifetime benefit to you as a NYSLRS retiree, but not all of them provide for a beneficiary. Visit our Payment Option Descriptions page to see a full list, but the options most often selected are:

  • Single-Life Allowance: provides the maximum pension benefit, but there is no continuing benefit to a beneficiary after you die.
  • Joint-Allowances and Pop-Up Joint Allowances: provide a monthly pension to a single beneficiary for their lifetime if you die first. This beneficiary cannot be changed, even if your beneficiary dies before you. If you chose the Pop-Up option, your pension amount goes up if your beneficiary dies before you.
  • Five- or Ten-Year Certain: If you die within five or ten years after retiring (depending which option you chose) NYSLRS pays a beneficiary, or multiple beneficiaries, for the remainder of the five or ten years. To change your beneficiaries for these options, submit a Pensioner’s Designation of Beneficiaries form (RS6439) Adobe pdf.

How do I find out my pension payment option details?

You can see your pension payment option in the Summary section of Retirement Online. If you chose an option that provides for a beneficiary, that beneficiary would be designated “Pensioner” in the Type of Beneficiary column.

Your pension payment option is also listed on your Retiree Annual Statement, which is mailed to you in February.

Post-Retirement Death Benefit

This is a one-time, lump sum benefit payable to your beneficiaries if you die after retiring directly from service or within one year of leaving public employment. Not all retirees are eligible — it depends on your retirement plan and tier. If you are eligible, the amount is based on the ordinary death benefit you had before you retired and how long you have been retired.

  • First year of retirement: 50 percent of your ordinary death benefit;
  • Second year of retirement: 25 percent of your ordinary death benefit; and
  • After your second year of retirement: 10 percent of the benefit that would have been payable at retirement, or at age 60, whichever was earlier.

How do I find out my post-retirement death benefit details?

Your death benefit amounts were provided to you in a letter when you retired. If you no longer have this letter, you can contact us to request a reprint.

You can view or change your beneficiaries for this benefit at any time by signing in to your Retirement Online account. You can also change your beneficiaries by submitting a Post-Retirement Death Benefit Designation of Beneficiaries form (RS4471) Adobe pdf. (The beneficiary for this benefit would be designated “Death Bene” in the Type of Beneficiary column in Retirement Online.)

Your beneficiaries for this benefit do not have to be the same as your pension payment option beneficiary.

Accidental Death Benefit

Chapter 445 (Laws of 2006) provides for an accidental death benefit to the beneficiaries of certain retirees who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup. For more information, visit our World Trade Center Accidental Death Benefit page.

Survivor’s Benefit for Retired New York State Employees

The Survivor’s Benefit Program provides a death benefit to the beneficiaries of eligible retired New York State employees. For most retirees, the amount is $3,000. Read our brochure, The Survivor’s Benefit Program for Retired New York State Employees, for information about eligibility requirements.

Your beneficiary(ies) for this benefit is tied to your pension payment option. If you chose a pension payment option that leaves a benefit to a beneficiary, then your survivor’s benefit will also go to that beneficiary. If you chose the Single Life Allowance, or if you chose a joint allowance but your beneficiary has died, you can change your survivor’s benefit beneficiary at any time by sending us a completed Pensioner’s Designation of Beneficiaries (RS6439) form Adobe pdf.

(Rev. 9/19)

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