Survivor Checklist

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After the death of a loved one, many people find themselves overwhelmed with the tasks to be completed.

This checklist is to assist survivors of ACERA retirees with issues they may need to address. It’s not a definitive list of all matters of immediate concern upon death, so you may want to add your own items.

What to Do Regarding ACERA

  • Notify ACERA of the death by filling out the Report a Death form or by calling 510-628-3000.
  • If you are the member’s designated beneficiary for ACERA death benefits, an ACERA representative will call you to discuss benefits. If you believe you are the beneficiary, you can gather the documents ACERA will require to pay out death benefits so you are ready to provide them to ACERA. ACERA will send you a letter requesting these documents, and you can mail them to us in the envelope provided:
    • For monthly continuance payments, ACERA requires: 
      • A copy of beneficiary’s birth certificate  
      • A copy of beneficiary’s social security card  
      • A copy of marriage certificate or state-registered domestic partnership declaration, if applicable  
      • An original certified copy of retired member’s death certificate  
    • For lump sum payments, ACERA requires: 
      • A copy of beneficiary’s social security card  
      • An original certified copy of retired member’s death certificate  

What to Do Outside of ACERA

  • Gather all pertinent information and identification numbers for immediate reference — full name, date of birth, place of birth, address at time of death, place of death, Social Security number, VA number, Medicare number, insurance policy numbers, bank account numbers, and contact numbers for insurance and financial institutions.
  • Contact a funeral home: Contact the member’s preferred funeral home to coordinate burial and/or memorial services. Request numerous copies of the original certified death certificate.
  • Notify life insurance carriers through any employers, credit unions, or other associations of which the deceased was a member.
  • Contact any other retirement plans such as a deferred compensation (e.g., 457b, 401k), IRAs or other pension systems from which the member was receiving benefits.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration to determine whether there are any benefits forthcoming.
  • Contact the deceased’s financial institutions and banks regarding her/his accounts and ask about such matters as safety deposit boxes, death benefits, and outstanding loans.
  • Contact the Veterans’ Affairs office if the member was a veteran to check on possible death benefits.

What You Don’t Need To Do

  • You don’t need to notify health insurance carriers. We will notify medical, dental, and vision carriers for you to end coverage for the deceased member.

What to Expect Regarding Death Benefit Payments​

  • The member’s benefit will be paid up to the day in which the member dies. Any overpayments will need to be collected. Any benefits not yet paid will be paid out to the member’s beneficiaries.
  • If eligible, the beneficiaries entitled to the death benefits will be mailed a letter requesting the documents ACERA needs prior to issuing payment. ACERA will need at least one original certified copy of the death certificate (we’ll return it).
  • Upon receipt of the requested documents, the death benefits will be paid to the beneficiaries. In total, the process can take approximately 2 to 3 months.

What to Expect Regarding Continuing Healthcare Coverage

  • Survivors of ACERA retirees may maintain their enrollment in ACERA healthcare plans after the death of the retiree. When an ACERA representative calls you to discuss your beneficiary status, you can indicate whether you wish to continue medical, dental, and/or vision coverage. If you wish to cancel any of the coverages, you may choose which to retain and which to cancel. You can also cancel all the coverages if you wish.
  • ACERA’s healthcare unit will ensure survivors experience no gap in coverage if they wish to continue the coverage.
  • Survivors receiving lifetime monthly continuance payments can continue healthcare coverage in ACERA plans indefinitely under most circumstances. Premiums for the healthcare plans will be deducted from the survivor’s monthly continuance payment check. Premiums for the time period before the continuance payments start will be deducted from later checks to ensure no gap in coverage. (If a survivor’s continuance payment doesn’t cover the premium costs, and they dis-enroll and then try to re-enroll, they may not be able to get coverage.)
  • Survivors receiving a lump sum death benefit payment can continue enrollment under the federal COBRA Act for up to 36 months after the member’s death. These survivors will receive a COBRA letter from ACERA with a COBRA election form which they can use to elect to continue coverage.
  • Survivors wishing to continue enrollment in ACERA’s healthcare plans will not be able to change plans at the member’s death. They can changes plans during the next open enrollment period.
  • While survivors and family members can maintain enrollment in ACERA healthcare plans, no subsidies are available to cover the cost of the coverage, so the survivor must pay the full cost.