Survivor Benefits

If you die, survivor benefits allow your spouse and/or other designated beneficiaries to receive all or part of your vested retirement benefit. The FRS actuary, reports that about 6% of all FRS members (and 10% of Special Risk Class) will separate from employment due to death.

FRS Pension Plan

FRS Investment Plan

Before You Retire

  • If you are actively employed and die in the line of duty, your spouse (if you're married) will receive a monthly benefit equal to one-half of your last monthly salary, payable for his or her lifetime. Your spouse will receive this benefit, regardless of your length of service, even if you named someone else as your beneficiary. If your spouse subsequently dies, the benefit will continue to your children until the youngest child reaches age 18 or is married, if earlier. If you have no spouse and die in the line of duty, your benefit will be paid to any dependent children until the youngest child reaches age 18. Less than 1% of FRS annuitants currently receive these death benefits.
  • If you are actively employed and die outside the line of duty, but before you retire, your named beneficiary who does not qualify as a joint annuitant may receive a refund of only your personal contributions, if any (no monthly benefit would be payable). If your beneficiary qualifies as a joint annuitant, he or she may choose one of the following:
    • A refund of your personal contributions, if any.
    • A lifetime monthly benefit calculated as if you had retired on your date of death and chosen Payment Option 3 (see the Payment Options section). This benefit would be reduced for early retirement if you died before reaching your normal retirement age. If your joint annuitant (who is not your spouse) is under age 25 or is disabled and incapable of self-support, your benefit will be paid under Payment Option 1. Your beneficiary will receive this benefit until he or she reaches age 25, or until no longer disabled.
    • A deferred Payment Option 3 benefit. If deferred, the benefit will be calculated using the ages you and your joint annuitant would have attained when the benefit starts. A deferred benefit is greater than an immediate early-retirement benefit because there is less reduction for early retirement.
    • About 4% of FRS annuitants currently receive these death benefits.
  • If you die less than one year from becoming vested, your joint annuitant may be eligible to purchase enough service credit to vest you and receive monthly benefits. This service credit is based on your accumulated leave balances and/or any in-state or out-of-state service you were eligible to purchase.

After You Retire

  • If you elected Payment Option 1, your benefit will end as of the date of your death and no further payments will be made.
  • If you elected Payment Option 2 and die after 10 years of retirement, no benefits are payable to your beneficiary. If you die within 10 years (120 months) after you retire, your beneficiary will receive the same monthly benefit payment you were receiving for the balance of the 120-month period, at which point benefits will end.
  • If you elected Payment Option 3, your joint annuitant who is your spouse or any person who is age 25 or older and disabled and incapable of self-support will receive a lifetime monthly benefit payment in the same amount as you were receiving for the remainder of his/her lifetime. If your joint annuitant (excluding your spouse) is under age 25, he or she will receive your Option 1 benefit amount until he or she reaches age 25, unless disabled and incapable of self-support. In instances of disability, regardless of age, he or she will receive your Option 1 benefit amount until he or she is no longer disabled.
  • If you elected Payment Option 4, upon the death of either you or your joint annuitant, the monthly benefit payment to the survivor is reduced to two-thirds of the monthly benefit amount you were receiving while both of you were living. If your joint annuitant is under age 25 or is disabled, refer to "If you elected Payment Option 3" above.
Before You've Elected Distribution

  • There are no in-line-of-duty benefits other than the payment of your account balance as described below.
  • If you die at any time before vesting, your beneficiary is entitled to the contributions you have made to your retirement plan.
  • If you die at any time after becoming vested but before you've retired and elected payment, your beneficiary is entitled to receive the full value of your vested Investment Plan account balance. If your spouse is your beneficiary, your spouse may defer receipt or receive your account balance under any of the options available to you as a member of the Investment Plan (See Payment Options for more information). If your beneficiary is not your spouse, your beneficiary must decide within one year how to take a distribution from your account. The account must be paid out within 5 years, unless your beneficiary takes a distribution over their lifetime (annuity). There are no separate death benefits if you die in the line of duty as provided in the Pension Plan.

After You've Elected Distribution

  • If you elected an annuity with a joint and survivor option, then your joint annuitant will continue to receive the specified portion of your benefit for the remainder of his or her lifetime.
  • If you elected a lump-sum payment, no additional survivor payments are available.
  • If you elected to take partial distributions from your account, your beneficiary will be entitled to receive the remaining account balance.
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