Office of the State Comptroller
Retirement Services Division

    Terms

Survivor Benefits

Overview

  • The survivor option dictates what benefits, if any, are payable after your death.
  • When you retire you must select one of 4 different income payment options (Survivor Options).
    • Option D - Straight Life Annuity
    • Option A - 50% Spouse
    • Option B - 50% or 100% Contingent Annuitant
    • Option C - 10 Year or 20 Year Period Certain
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  • This choice is irrevocable.
  • Regardless of the option you choose, you will receive a monthly pension for the rest of your life, and, if you qualify for health insurance as a benefit, the health insurance coverage will extend to your eligible dependents so long as you are alive.
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  • The cost of selecting a survivor option varies according to the option you choose, your age and, in some cases, the age of the person you are protecting. This calculator will provide estimates under different options.
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Option D - Straight Life Annuity
  • This option pays you the maximum monthly benefit for your lifetime only.
    • All benefits will end upon your death, including state-sponsored health insurance for any surviving eligible dependents.
Option A - 50% Spouse
  • This benefit guarantees a monthly benefit and state-sponsored health insurance for you and your spouse (assuming you and your spouse are still married when you die).
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  • This option will pay you a reduced benefit for your lifetime in exchange for the protection that, should you pre-decease your spouse, the State will continue to pay 50% of your reduced benefit for your spouse's lifetime.
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Option B - 50% or 100% Contingent Annuitant
  • This option provides you a reduced monthly benefit for your life and allows you to guarantee lifetime payments after your death to any one person. After your death, a percentage of your reduced benefit, either 50% or 100%, whichever you choose, will continue for your contingent annuitant's life.
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  • Your contingent annuitant can be any one person. This person does not need to be a spouse or a family member, although you are free to name a spouse under this option.
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  • This option will also provide lifetime health insurance to any contingent annuitant who qualifies as your eligible dependent at the time of your death.
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  • NOTE: If you choose a 100% survivor option for a non-spouse who is more than 10 years younger than you, IRS provisions may further limit the monthly amount payable to your named contingent annuitant after your death. See 26  C.F.R. §  1.401(a)(9)-6.        
Option C - 10 Year or 20 Year Period Certain
  • This option provides you a reduced monthly benefit for your lifetime in exchange for the guarantee that monthly benefits will be paid for at least 10 or 20 years from your retirement date (whichever you choose).
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  • If you should die within 10 years (120 payments) or 20 years (240 payments) from your date of retirement, the remaining payments, in accordance with your selection, will be made to your contingent annuitant(s).
    • This is the only option that allows you to name more than one contingent annuitant, each of whom would receive any remaining monthly payment in equal shares.
  • The contingent annuitant(s) will only receive benefits under this option if you die within the protected period.
    • This option provides no guarantee of benefits to anyone other than the retiree beyond the protection period.