After the death of a loved one, many people find themselves overwhelmed with the tasks to be completed.
ACERA has created this checklist to assist survivors with issues they may need to address. This checklist is not a definitive list of all matters of immediate concern upon death, so you may want to add your own items. You may also want to create a contact list of banks, insurance companies, and all other applicable institutions.
ACERA asks its members to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries, to whom benefits are payable in the event of death. It is important to keep your beneficiary designations current (addresses and phone numbers) to ensure timely payments are made to the appropriate individuals.
It is important to know which death benefits your beneficiary is entitled to receive. ACERA Member Services can help you make this determination. To assist and expedite the processing and payment of any potential death benefit, ACERA must have the following:
Retirees can name beneficiaries for the following benefits payable upon the retiree’s death:
A continuance payment. The value is based on the retirement option you nominated at retirement.
A one-time lump-sum death benefit. This benefit is vested. Currently, the maximum benefit provided is $1,000.
Any retirement allowance earned but not yet paid to the retiree at the time of the retiree’s death. This benefit is pro-rated to cover the amount payable for the portion of the month prior to the retiree’s death.
A refund of excess contributions. This benefit is provided if the total payments made to the beneficiary are less than the retiree’s contributions and interest on deposit with ACERA. This is not paid out if the beneficiary receives a continuance.
A refund of prepaid health payments that will not be used. If a member’s check is not large enough to cover health care premiums, in some instances he/she may be paying ACERA two months in advance for the cost of those premiums. The beneficiary will receive a refund of any payment not used. These benefits are taxable. Beneficiaries will receive Form 1099® for income reporting purposes.
At retirement, you will complete an Election of Retirement Allowance on which you will choose one of the five retirement options. Your selection is permanent, and cannot be changed after ACERA has received your signed, completed retirement election—so it’s important to understand your benefits and your beneficiary(ies)’ benefits under each option.
Unmodified Option: Provides the Maximum Monthly Lifetime Benefit
Benefit paid to retiree
Maximum allowance provided for retiree’s lifetime, based on age, service credit, and final average salary.
Benefit paid to beneficiary on retiree’s death
For spouse/state-registered domestic partner with whom retiree was married/registered at least one year before retirement, lifetime monthly allowance of 60% of retiree’s allowance at time of death.
If the retiree was on a service-connected disability retirement, the benefit is 100% of retiree’s retirement allowance at the time of death for a spouse or state-registered domestic partner that was married to the member at time of retirement for any amount of time.
For minor child(ren), collective monthly allowance of 60% (or 100% for member who retired on service-connected disability) of retiree’s allowance at time of death, payable to the minor child(ren) until the minor marries/registers or reaches age 18 (or age 22 if enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited school).
For a beneficiary other than a spouse/state-registered domestic partner or minor child, a one-time, lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly retirement payments already paid.
If named beneficiary dies before retiree
Upon retiree’s death, alternate or newly named beneficiary will only receive lump-sum payment of retiree’s accumulated contributions and interest, minus monthly payments already paid.