Death Benefits

If you are a NYSLRS retiree, your beneficiaries may be entitled to receive death benefits after you die. (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. Survivors can report the death of a retiree by using our online death report form, or they can call 866-805-0990 and press 3 and then 1. We’ll also need an original, certified death certificate. We’ll mail information about death benefits, and any needed forms, to your beneficiaries.

You can find important information for you and for your survivors in 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 on 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).

You can see your pension payment option in the Summary section of Retirement Online. If you chose an option that provides for a beneficiary, you can review your named beneficiary by clicking “View and Update My Beneficiaries.”

If you need to update your option beneficiary’s mailing address or phone number, submit a letter with your beneficiary’s name and the correct information. Please include your NYSLRS ID, retirement number, registration number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number on the letter, as well as your signature. You can attach the letter to our secure email form or send it by mail to:

110 State Street
Albany, NY 12244-0001

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

If your option beneficiary dies, please provide us with a photocopy of their death certificate along with a cover letter with your name, NYSLRS ID, retirement number, registration number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your contact information. If you chose a pop-up option, your pension amount will be increased to the amount you would have received if you had selected the Single Life Allowance at retirement.

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.

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 your post-retirement death benefit beneficiaries, change your beneficiaries or update their contact information at any time.

Sign in to Retirement Online, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ area of your Account Homepage and click “View and Update My Beneficiaries.” Retirement Online beneficiary change submissions include an e-signature, and your request is considered filed on the day it is submitted.

You can also change your beneficiaries by submitting a Post-Retirement Death Benefit Designation of Beneficiaries form (RS4471). If you update your beneficiaries using the paper form you must include the names, addresses and birth dates of all the beneficiaries you wish to designate. The beneficiary information you list on your form will replace all previous designations for this benefit.

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 by sending us a completed Pensioner’s Designation of Beneficiaries (RS6439) form.

Rev. 2/22

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