Enhanced Death Benefit for Survivors of COVID-19 Victims

COVID-19 has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths across New York State. Sadly, the pandemic’s victims include NYSLRS members who carried out their essential duties despite personal risk.

The families of these selfless members can take some comfort in knowing that they may be eligible for enhanced death benefits. Recently enacted legislation provides certain beneficiaries of public employees who contract COVID-19 on the job and die from COVID-19 with an accidental death benefit.

death benefit for survivors of COVID-19 victims

Most NYSLRS members are eligible for a death benefit if they die while in service; this “ordinary death benefit” provides a member’s designated beneficiary or beneficiaries a single, lump sum payment, worth up to three years’ salary. Alternatively, an “accidental death benefit” may be available to certain beneficiaries if the member’s death is a result of an on-the-job accident. The NYSLRS accidental death benefit is a pension paid to beneficiaries that are defined in statute, first to a surviving spouse, if no spouse to dependent children, then to dependent parent(s).

Generally, the accidental death benefit is equal to 50 percent of the member’s final average salary or last year’s salary depending on the retirement plan the member is enrolled in. You can find your retirement plan information on our Publications page. In addition to the accidental death benefit, a special accidental death benefit may also be payable to a member of the New York State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System.

“This new law is an important step toward protecting public workers who are on the front lines fighting the coronavirus and helping their communities,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “If something happens to them, they deserve their retirement benefits and the peace of mind that their families are provided for.”  

Eligibility Requirements

A NYSLRS member’s statutory beneficiary would be eligible for the accidental death benefit if the member:

  • Worked at either their normal workplace or another assigned workplace, not their residence, as directed by their employer, on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Contracted COVID-19 within 45 days of the last day that the member reported for work;
  • Died on or before December 31, 2022; and
  • Died from COVID-19 or COVID-19 caused or contributed to their death.

The COVID-19 benefit also applies to members who were working as of March 1 but retired prior to July 1, 2020. If the retiree met the eligibility requirements, contracted COVID at work or within 45 days of last reporting to work, and died after retiring, but on or before December 31, 2020, their statutory beneficiary has the option of converting the service retirement benefit or disability retirement benefit to an accidental death benefit.

The COVID-19 benefit is available for all NYSLRS members (Employees’ Retirement System as well as Police and Fire Retirement System members), regardless of job title, or tier.

How to Claim the Benefit

When someone calls NYSLRS to report a death, they should let us know it was COVID-related. We’ll also ask for an original death certificate. We will then reach out to the beneficiary to assist them in claiming the benefit. For the COVID-19 death benefit, NYSLRS will confirm with the employer the dates that the member reported to work and request the required documentation showing COVID-19 as the cause of death. The COVID-19 death benefit will be reduced by any ordinary death benefits paid out to a beneficiary by NYSLRS.

22 thoughts on “Enhanced Death Benefit for Survivors of COVID-19 Victims

  1. Lisa Fagan

    My father was working with MTA and caught covid19 on the job. He was hospitalized at kingscounty where he only last 2 weeks before his death on January 31st 2021

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss.

      If your father was a NYSLRS member and his death has not already been reported, someone should please call 1-866-805-0990, press 3, then 1. When someone reports the death, they should let us know it was COVID-related.

      Reply
  2. Riah Rahman

    Hello, my dad past away due to covid 19 in February 27, 2021. He was in hospital since beginning of December 2020. We didn’t receive any pension.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss.

      If your father was a NYSLRS member, his designated beneficiaries may be eligible for death benefits. If his death has not been reported to NYSLRS, you can report it by calling 1-866-805-0990, pressing 3, then 1. You will be asked for his registration number or Social Security number and the date of death. NYSLRS will contact designated beneficiaries and provide any paperwork they need to complete.

      Reply
  3. Kowsila Persaud-Ali

    My husband was working for a chemical company, he came home and say he is not feeling so good ,I contact his dr. And he say for him to take some time off work and it might be covid and in two weeks my husband pass away I am a widow with three kids any help will be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss.

      Survivors of public employees may be eligible for the COVID-19 enhanced death benefit. If your husband was a member of the New York State and Local Retirement System, please call 866-805-0990 and press 3 then 1 to speak to a customer service representative to report his passing and for more information.

      Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          NYSLRS benefits are only available to beneficiaries of employees of New York State or municipalities in New York State (excluding New York City). If your husband worked in New Jersey, you may wish to contact his former employer for information about any benefits that may be payable.

          Reply
  4. Polok

    My father died in 27 April.he was affected in COVID-19.Before affected he is working in one pharmaceutical company.can we get any benefits form you guys and give some information how can we get some benefits.Thanks.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss.

      NYSLRS provides benefits to current and former New York State employees and municipal employees outside of New York City and to their beneficiaries. If your father was a NYSLRS member, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 and press 3 for information about any benefits that may be available to his survivors.

      Reply
  5. Susan Brandenberger

    My husband passed away from COVID on April 12, 2020. He put in for disability retirement I believe in March. I still haven’t gotten any answers in regard to receiving his pension, which i believe will be an accidental death benefit. His employer and myself sent in all the documents necessary. I’ve been waiting 6 1/2 months and was told today I may not receive anything until 2021.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss. Your message is important to us and we have sent you a private message in response.

      Reply
  6. Ashley Gorfine

    We have been trying for 6 weeks to get this. We have spoken to the state several times. We have filled out the forms, everything. We have sent death certificates, spoken to staff and nobody knows what form to send. They tell us to fill out the ordinary but that is not correct. They said wait you will hear but nothing. We need help.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re sorry for your loss and we apologize for the trouble you are having. Your message is important to us and we have sent you a private message in response.

      Reply
  7. Richard

    Can beneficiaries receive payments regardless of their age? For example, what if an employee who dies has a 20-year old wife beneficiary. Will she be able to draw the 50% pension throughout her life?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      If you choose a NYSLRS pension payment option at that provides for a beneficiary after your death, your beneficiary will receive a lifetime benefit.

      Be aware, however, that the amount of the reduction in your pension is based on your life expectancy and the life expectancy of your beneficiary. That means the younger your beneficiary, the deeper the reduction. For more information, read our Lifetime Options blog post.

      Reply
      1. Richard

        Thank you. Actually, I won’t be vested (eligible for pension) until Aug 2021…if I pass away due to COVID-19 related illness before Dec 31st this year because of returning to work, will my wife receive a pension, or only the payout from my contributions?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          For account-specific details about this benefit, please email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

          Reply
  8. Shirin virani Virani

    My husband was working in grocery until March 30 he had all symptoms and isolated himself his fever turned into pneumonia and was hospitalized on april 13 tested covid positive they intubated him and he passed away on april 28 2020 in hospital at age of 52 I am his widow and have my daughter 16 dependent on me any help will be appreciated

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We’re very sorry for your loss.

      If your husband was a NYSLRS member, you may be eligible for a death benefit. For more information, please call our customer representatives at 1-866-805-0990 or email them using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com).

      Reply
  9. Elizabeth Kalinowski

    I understand this is a very sad thing. My husband died of cancer six weeks before his 55th birthday and I didn’t even get his pension!

    Reply

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