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Death Benefits

In the event of your death during active membership, the appropriate death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies) that you indicated when you enrolled in ACERA or subsequently through an ACERA Active or Deferred member Beneficiary Designation Form. The death benefits available to your beneficiaries are detailed in the tables below.

To report a death, use our Report a Death web form.

Active Member Death Benefits

In the event of your death during active membership, the appropriate death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies) that you indicated when you enrolled in ACERA or subsequently through an ACERA Active or Deferred member Beneficiary Designation Form. The death benefits available to your beneficiaries are detailed in the tables below.

Being a “vested” member of ACERA means you have at least 5 years of ACERA service credit, or a combined 5 years of ACERA service credit and reciprocal service credit.

 Active Member Death Benefits

Benefit Options
Upon member’s death, eligible beneficiaries will choose 1 option:
Eligibility Beneficiary can be

1. Lump Sum Death Benefit*

Return of employee contributions and interest

 

PLUS

 

One month of salary for each year of service, not to exceed 6 years

Both
Non-Vested and Vested members
Anyone you name
Funds will be divided equally among multiple beneficiaries.

2a. Non-Service Connected Death Allowance

Beneficiary will receive the greater of 1.) a monthly payment of approximately 20% of member’s Final Average Salary (60% of a non-service-connected disability retirement allowance), OR 2.) a monthly payment of 60% of what the member’s unmodified retirement allowance would have been, calculated as of the date of death.

Vested members

Spouse/ State-Registered Domestic Partner
Allowance is paid for the lifetime of the spouse or state-registered domestic partner.

 

Children
If there is no surviving spouse/ state-registered domestic partner, unmarried children may collectively elect the monthly allowance, to be divided equally among them. Each unmarried child’s allowance lasts until age 18 or, if a full-time student at an accredited school, to age 22.

2b. Service-Connected Death Allowance

Beneficiary will receive 100% of a service-connected disability retirement allowance, calculated as of the date of death, if death was connected with employment.

Both
Non-Vested and Vested members

3. Lump Sum / Allowance Combination Death Benefit*

Combined benefit, including both a lump-sum amount and a reduced monthly allowance payment.

Vested members Spouse/ State-Registered Domestic Partner or Children
The same details in the box above apply.

*If the active member’s beneficiary—who is a spouse, state-registered domestic partner, or legally appointed guardian of the member’s unmarried children under age 18—chooses a lump sum payment, the account will earn interest up to the date of payment.

 

Safety Member Additional Service-Connected Active Death Benefits

If safety member’s death is in the line of duty and results from an accident or injury caused by external physical force

Benefit
Upon member’s death, eligible beneficiaries will receive all benefits below that apply:
Eligibility Beneficiary can be
Service-Connected Allowance
Lump Sum payment of one year’s salary.
Both
Non-Vested and Vested safety members

Spouse/ State-Registered Domestic Partner

Additional benefits are added to spouse or state-registered domestic partner’s benefit.

Service-Connected Additional Allowance
If Spouse/ State-Registered Domestic Partner selects allowance, payment is increased by a percentage for eligible children. Payments are made until age 18 or, if a full-time student at an accredited school, to age 22.
Both
Non-Vested and Vested safety members

 

Deferred Member Death Benefits

If your death occurs while you are in a deferred member status with ACERA, retirement contributions plus interest as of the date of death will be paid to your beneficiary or beneficiaries. No additional death benefits are offered to surviving spouses/ state-registered domestic partners or eligible minor children of deferred members.

Retiree Death Benefits

Retirees can name beneficiaries for four different kinds of benefits payable after the retiree’s death:

  • Monthly continuance payments 
  • A one-time $1,000 lump-sum death benefit (as long as there are funds in the SRBR)
  • Any retirement benefit allowance earned but not yet paid to the retiree at the time of the retiree’s death. This benefit covers the portion of the last month’s benefit payment payable for the portion of the month up to the retiree’s death (death pro-rated benefit); and
  • A refund of excess contributions if, when all monthly retirement payments have been made, the total payments made to the beneficiary are less than the retiree’s contributions and interest on deposit with ACERA.

See The 5 Retirement Allowance Payment Options page for more details on retiree death benefits.

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