Office of the State Comptroller
Retirement Services Division
Tier I - Retirement Basics
Survivor Benefits

Overview

  • The survivor option dictates what benefits, if any, are payable after your death.
    • This choice will determine whether the state will continue to pay pension checks and/or health insurance coverage for your eligible dependents 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
       
  • This choice is irrevocable.
    • You will not be able to switch to another option once your pension goes into pay status.
       
  • 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.
     
  • The cost of selecting a survivor option varies according to the option you choose; the age you are closest to retirement; and, in some cases, the age your survivor is closest to at the time of retirement. For an estimate of the cost under any of the different survivor options please refer the following benefit Estimator: (Tier I benefit Estimator)

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, if eligible, state-sponsored health insurance  (assuming  your spouse remains an eligible dependent) for you and your spouse.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Your benefit will be reduced by a factor that accounts for both the age you and your spouse are closest to at the time of retirement.
     
  • If eligibility requirements are met, this option applies to retirees who have been married for at least one year.
     
  • Under no circumstances can you change options or replace your spouse with another annuitant.

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.
     
  • Your benefit will be reduced by a factor that takes into account the level of protection you are guaranteeing (50% or 100%) along with the age you are closest to and your spouse is closest to at the time of retirement.
     
  • 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.
     
    • Please 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
       
  • If eligibility  requirements are met, this option will also provide lifetime health insurance to any contingent annuitant who qualifies as your eligible dependent.
     
  • Under no circumstances can you change options or substitute your contingent annuitant.

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).
  • 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 payments in equal shares.
       
  • Your benefit will be reduced by a factor that takes into account the period of time for which you are providing protection and the age you are closest to at the time of retirement. Under this option, the age of your contingent annuitant(s) does not impact the amount of your monthly benefit.
     
  • Your named 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.
       
    • Although your pension (including health insurance for any eligible dependents) will continue for your lifetime, if you die after the State has paid all of the guaranteed payments, all benefits will end upon your death (including health insurance for any eligible dependents).
       
  • If your contingent annuitant dies before you, and the protection period has not expired, you may name a new contingent annuitant.
     
  • Under no circumstances can you change your option.

Spousal Waiver

  • If you have been married for at least 1 year prior to your date of retirement, in order for you to select an option which does not provide your spouse with lifetime protection, your spouse must consent by completing a spousal waiver form.

Benefit Payment Options and Health Insurance

  • Regardless of the option you choose, 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.
     
  • Your option choice will determine whether health insurance continues for any eligible dependents after your death. In order to qualify for the continuation of health insurance benefits after your death, your surviving contingent annuitant must:
    • Must meet the eligibility requirements to receive health insurance benefits, AND
       
    • Must be entitled to continued monthly payments

 

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