ORBIT

Benefits for Survivors

Smiling family representing beneficiaries

If you are a family member or survivor of a Retirement Systems member, please notify our office as soon as possible of the retired member's death. Click on the link below for an online form or call our office at 1-877-627-3287. If you use our online form, you will be given the opportunity to upload the member's death certificate.

Click here for more information on how to report a members' death

Retiree Death Benefits

Retiree Death Benefits

The sections below describe the death benefits available to Retirement Systems' retirees and their survivors. Some benefits are available for retirees of all retirement systems, while others only apply to:

  • Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS)
  • Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System (LGERS)
  • Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers Pension Fund (Fire & Rescue)
  • Consolidated Judicial Retirement System (CJRS)
Death Benefits for Most Systems

Death Benefits for Most Systems

The death benefits listed below are for the Teachers' and State Employees', Local Governmental Employees', Legislative and Consolidated Judicial Retirement Systems. Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund death benefits are listed separately in this section.

Guaranteed Refund

You are automatically eligible for the Guaranteed Refund when you choose a payment option. Under the Guaranteed Refund provision, if you and your monthly survivor beneficiary (if any) both die before the total of all monthly payments equals the amount of your contributions and interest, the balance of your contributions and interest will be paid in one lump sum to another beneficiary(ies). The Guaranteed Refund also covers any purchases you made for additional creditable service after retirement. You may name one or more beneficiaries for the Guaranteed Refund, and you may change your beneficiary selection(s) as often as you like. However, the beneficiary you choose for the Guaranteed Refund cannot be the same as your monthly survivor beneficiary.

Optional $10,000 Contributory Death Benefit

When you retire, we will mail you a Form 333 (Choosing the Contributory Death Benefit for Retired Members). To enroll, you must make your election within 60 days of the effective date of your retirement. If you enrolled in the optional $10,000 Contributory Death Benefit for Retired Members and your death occurs on or after the first day of the month following the 24th month of coverage, a lump-sum payment of $10,000 will be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies). If no beneficiary has been designated, the benefit will be paid to your spouse, or legal representative if you are not survived by a spouse. If your death occurs before the first day of the month following the 24th month of coverage, the amount payable will be equal to your premiums plus interest.

Continuation of Monthly Benefits under Survivor Options

When you choose benefit your payment option, if you choose one of the survivor options (Options 2, 3, 6-2 and 6-3), your survivor beneficiary will receive a monthly lifetime benefit after your death.

NOTE: During the month a retiree or beneficiary dies, the legal representative of the deceased retiree or beneficiary is entitled to a full check for the month the death occurred. It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor for a person to fraudulently receive the retirement benefit of a deceased retiree or beneficiary after the recipient’s death.

TSERS Death Benefits

TSERS Death Benefits

If you die within 180 days of your last day of service, and meet all eligibility requirements, the lump-sum death benefit for active employees described below will be payable.

Lump-Sum Death Benefit

If you die while still in active service after one year as a contributing member, your beneficiary will receive a lump-sum payment equal to your highest salary for 12 consecutive months during the 24 months before you die. The lump-sum payment will be at least $25,000 but no more than $50,000 and is also paid if you die within 180 days of your last day of service provided you have not withdrawn your contributions. The death benefit is in addition to any other benefits to which your beneficiary(ies) may be entitled. For this death benefit, you may name the same or a different beneficiary(ies) than the one(s) you named to receive the return of contributions.

If you are a state or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, your beneficiary also may be entitled to a $50,000 line-of-duty death
benefit. This lump sum benefit is administered jointly by the North Carolina Industrial Commission and the Department of State Treasurer.

LGERS Death Benefits

LGERS Death Benefits

If your employer elected the lump-sum death benefit for active employees described below ,and you die within 180 days of your last day of service, and
meet all eligibility requirements, this benefit will be payable.

Lump-Sum Death Benefit

If you die while still in active service after one year as a contributing member, your beneficiary will receive a lump-sum payment equal to your highest salary for 12 consecutive months during the 24 months before you die. The lump-sum payment will be at least $25,000 but no more than $50,000 and is also paid if you die within 180 days of your last day of service provided you have not withdrawn your contributions. The death benefit is in addition to any other benefits to which your beneficiary(ies) may be entitled. For this death benefit, you may name the same or a different beneficiary(ies) than the one(s) you named to receive the return of contributions.

If you are a state or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, your beneficiary also may be entitled to a $50,000 line-of-duty death
benefit. This lump sum benefit is administered jointly by the North Carolina Industrial Commission and the Department of State Treasurer.

Fire & Rescue Death Benefits

Fire & Rescue Death Benefits

At your death, your beneficiary should notify the pension fund immediately. Your beneficiary may be eligible, as described below, to receive a lump sum
payment equal to your remaining FRSWPF contributions, or a monthly Survivor Benefit if you are killed in the line of duty.

Beneficiary Provisions if Death Not in Line of Duty Occurs Prior to July 1, 2018

If you die before July 1, 2018, and your death is not in the line of duty, the following beneficiary provisions apply:

  • The beneficiary of your pension fund account is your spouse.
  • If you do not have a surviving spouse as of your date of death, your contributions will be paid to your children or guardian of your children.
  • If you do not have a surviving spouse or children, the proceeds will be paid to your “heirs at law” or to your “estate, if it is administered and there are no heirs.”

If you die before beginning to receive your pension, your beneficiary will receive the amount you paid and contributions paid on your behalf into the pension fund.

If you die after beginning to receive your benefits, your beneficiary will be paid the amount you contributed to the pension fund, minus the benefits you collected. If you die after collecting more from the fund than you contributed, payments stop. No additional benefits are paid.

Survivor Benefit if Line of Duty Death Occurs Prior to July 1, 2018

If you are an active member of FRSWPF and you die in the line of duty on or after June 1, 2016, but prior to July 1, 2018, your spouse will receive a monthly survivorship benefit (currently $170) beginning the month following the month you would have attained age 55, or if you had already attained age 55, beginning the month following your death.

If you are killed in the line of duty and you are already receiving a monthly FRSWPF retirement benefit, your spouse will receive the same amount monthly for life, beginning the month following your death.

All monthly survivor benefits end at your spouse’s death. No other beneficiaries are eligible for any benefits after your spouse’s death.

If there is no living spouse at the time of your line of duty death, a lump sum payment equal to your remaining contributions will be paid to your estate.

Beneficiary Provisions if Death Occurs On or After July 1, 2018

Effective July 1, 2018, FRSWPF members will be able to name principal and contingent beneficiaries for their return of contributions due to death, and for the Survivor Benefit if killed in the line of duty.

If you die on or after July 1, 2018, and your death is not in the line of duty, the following beneficiary provisions apply:

  • If you have designated a beneficiary(ies), this person(s) will be the beneficiary of your pension fund account.
  • If you do not have a designated beneficiary living as of your date of death, your spouse will be the beneficiary.
  • If there is no living beneficiary or spouse, the proceeds will be paid to your estate.

If you die before beginning to receive your pension, your beneficiary will receive the amount you paid and contributions paid on your behalf into the pension fund.

If you die after beginning to receive your benefits, your beneficiary will be paid the amount you contributed to the pension fund, minus the benefits you collected. If you die after collecting more from the fund than you contributed, payments stop. No additional benefits are paid.

Survivor Benefit if Line of Duty Death Occurs On or After July 1, 2018

If you are an active member of FRSWPF and you die in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2018, and you have one eligible principal beneficiary living at the time of your death, that beneficiary will receive a lifetime monthly survivorship benefit (currently $170) beginning the month after the month you would have turned 55. If you were 55 or older at the time of your death, your survivor will receive this lifetime monthly survivorship benefit beginning the month after your death.

If you are killed in the line of duty and you are already receiving a monthly FRSWPF retirement benefit, your beneficiary will receive the same amount monthly for life, beginning the month after your death.

All monthly survivor benefits end at the death of the monthly survivor beneficiary. No other beneficiaries are eligible for any benefits after the death of the monthly survivor beneficiary.

If there is more than one living principal beneficiary or contingent beneficiary(ies) at the time of your line-of-duty death, a lump-sum payment equal to your remaining contributions will be paid to the eligible beneficiary(ies), or if there are no eligible beneficiaries, to your estate.

All line-of-duty death benefits are payable contingent on approval from the Industrial Commission as required in Chapter 143, Article 12A of the General Statutes and are paid retroactively to the applicable benefit effective date.

CJRS Death Benefits

CJRS Death Benefits

Surviving Spouse Benefit

If you are a CJRS retiree and have a surviving spouse at the time of your death, a monthly Surviving Spouse Benefit will be paid to your spouse. The benefit is equal to half the benefit under the maximum allowance reduced by two percent for each full year your age exceeds the age of your spouse. This payment ceases at your surviving spouse’s death or upon remarriage. This benefit is payable in addition to any benefits payable under the monthly survivor options (Option 2, 3, 6-2 and 6-3).