Tag Archives: Survivor’s Benefit Program

Can I Change My Beneficiary After I Retire?

That depends. Some beneficiary decisions are irrevocable, while others can be changed at any time.

Some options, such as Five Year and Ten Year Certain, allow you to change your beneficiary after you retire. But if you choose an option that provides a lifetime benefit to a survivor, you cannot change your beneficiary even if your beneficiary dies before you do. For details, visit the Payment Option Descriptions page on our website.

But there are other possible death benefits for which NYSLRS retirees can name beneficiaries. Available death benefits and eligibility requirements vary by tier and retirement plan. You can find your retirement plan information on our Publications page.

NYSLRS retirees may have up to three types of death benefits that could provide a benefit for a beneficiary: pension payment option, survivor's benefit, and post-retirement death benefit.

When you retire, you must choose a payment option for your NYSLRS pension. If your choice is Single Life Allowance, there is no pension beneficiary. But other payment options provide a reduced monthly benefit in exchange for a possible payment to a beneficiary after the retiree’s death.

If you were employed by New York State, you may be eligible for a survivor’s benefit of up to $3,000. You do not need to sign up for this benefit; you are automatically enrolled if you are eligible. If you choose a pension payment option with a beneficiary, that person will also be the beneficiary for your survivor’s benefit. If your beneficiary dies before you do, you may select someone else as beneficiary for the survivor’s benefit. If you choose the Single Life Allowance option, you must name a beneficiary for your survivor’s benefit, and you may change this designation at any time.

What about after Retirement?

You may also be eligible for a post-retirement death benefit, which would be a percentage of the death benefit that was payable at retirement. (This benefit is generally not available to Tier 1 members or members in special retirement plans that allow for retirement after 20 or 25 years of service, regardless of age.) The beneficiary of your post-retirement death benefit does not have to be the same as your pension payment-option beneficiary. And you can change the beneficiary designation for your death benefit at any time.

The easiest way to check and update your beneficiary information for the post-retirement death benefit is with Retirement Online. You can also change your beneficiary by submitting a Designation of Beneficiary (RS5127) form.

Divorced? Some things to consider

Please note: If you are divorced, you may be required to choose a retirement option that provides continuing benefits to your ex-spouse after your death. Also, the beneficiary designation for certain benefits, including the survivor’s benefit, can be revoked when a divorce becomes final. For more information, please read the publication Divorce and Your Benefits on our website.

What is the New York State Employees Survivor’s Benefit Program?

Members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) become eligible for a death benefit after one year of service. However, if you’re a New York State employee (meaning that you work for the State of New York), your beneficiary can also receive a death benefit from the Survivor’s Benefit Program for State employees.


Eligibility Requirements for the Survivor’s Benefit Program

You don’t have to enroll in the program; your beneficiary is eligible to receive this benefit if, at the time of your death:

  • You were a full-time employee or officer of New York State
  • Your regularly scheduled work week equaled 20 or more hours (or your annual salary was at least 1,000 hours times the State minimum wage) and
  • Your salary was paid directly from State funds

There are also other eligibility requirements for the Survivor’s Benefit Program.

How Much Your Beneficiary Will Receive

This program supplements NYSLRS’ ordinary death benefit payment if that payment
is less than one-half of your annual salary, or if you don’t qualify for any ordinary death benefit payment.

The maximum amount payable to your beneficiary is $10,000; the minimum amount is $2,000. Both amounts include the ordinary death benefit paid by NYSLRS plus your survivor benefit. If your beneficiary is eligible to receive a NYSLRS ordinary death benefit of more than $10,000, this program will not provide any additional benefit.

Also, if NYSLRS pays an accidental death benefit, a $2,000 survivor’s benefit will also be paid to your beneficiary.

If you have questions about the program, read our publication, The Survivor’s Benefit Program for New York State Employees. If you have questions about any other retirement-related matters, please contact us.