Your beneficiary may be entitled to an ordinary death benefit if you meet the eligibility requirements and your death is not attributable to an on-the-job accident. The ordinary death benefit is a one-time lump sum payment. Your beneficiaries will not receive a monthly pension benefit.
The first $50,000 of the ordinary death benefit is paid in the form of group term life insurance, which is currently exempt from federal income tax. Your accumulated contributions (if any) are also payable to your beneficiary.
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 in public service;
- 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 Tier 1 Benefit
The Tier 1 death benefit is equal to 8.33 percent of your last year’s earnings, multiplied by your years of service credit up to 36 years.
Alternative Death Benefit
If you die in service after becoming eligible to retire, an alternative death benefit, which would be greater than the ordinary death benefit, may be payable.
The Tier 2 Benefit
The Tier 2 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 3 percent and will be further reduced by 3 percent each year you continue to be in service. It will not be reduced below 70 percent of the ordinary death benefit payable.
If you chose a different death benefit, and die while in active service, your beneficiary will be paid the greater of the two death benefits.
Post-Retirement Death Benefit
There is a post-retirement death benefit if you:
- Retire directly from service; or
- Are a vested member and your date of retirement is within one year of leaving public employment in New York State.
The post-retirement death benefit is calculated at retirement. During your first year of retirement, the benefit is 50 percent of the ordinary death benefit payable at retirement; during your second year of retirement, the benefit is 25 percent. During your third year and thereafter, the benefit will be 10 percent of the ordinary death benefit that would have been payable at age 60, if any, or at retirement, whichever was earlier.
Retirement at age 62 with a salary of $60,000
|$60,000 × 3 =||$180,000|
|Reduction for working until age 62:||− 10,800|
|Ordinary death benefit at retirement:||$169,200|
1st year of retirement
(50 percent of ordinary death benefit): $84,600
2nd year of retirement
(25 percent of ordinary death benefit): $42,300
After 2nd year of retirement
(10 percent of benefit at age 60): $18,000
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 may also be 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.