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Survivor benefits

When you retire, the survivorís benefits that will be available to your eligible beneficiary upon your death are dependent on the retirement benefit option you choose. The chart below explains the retirement benefit options, along with each corresponding survivor benefit option.

Unmodified Benefit Option 1
Cash Refund Annuity
Option 2
100% Joint and Survivor
Option 3
50% Joint and Survivor
Option 4
Multiple Beneficiaries
Lump-sum Death Benefit

Unmodified Benefit
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • Highest monthly benefit paid to all members
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • Upon the memberís death, an eligible spouse will receive a lifetime 60% continuance (60% of the Unmodified Benefit) each month 
  • If there is no eligible spouse, the 60% continuance is paid to eligible minor child/children. 
  • If there is no surviving spouse or eligible minor child/children, the designated beneficiary will receive a refund of any remaining SDCERA member contributions, plus interest.
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • An eligible spouse is someone to whom the member was married for at least one year prior to the date of retirement OR 
  • At least two years prior to the date of the memberís death and the person is at least 55 years of age on the memberís date of death.
  • An eligible minor child is any child unmarried and under the age of 18, or unmarried and under the age of 22 if enrolled full-time in an accredited college.

Option 1: Cash Refund Annuity
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • Reduced monthly retirement benefit.
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • Upon your death, any remaining member contributions and interest are paid in a lump sum to your estate or to a beneficiary of your choice.
  • With Option 1, there is no monthly survivor continuance available.
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • You may name anyone you choose to receive a return of any remaining member contributions.

Option 2: 100% Joint and Survivor
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • Reduced monthly retirement benefit.
  • Amount of reduction is based on age difference between you and the person you name as your beneficiary.
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • Upon your death, 100% of your reduced benefit is paid monthly to the beneficiary you name.
  • Your beneficiary must have an insurable interest* in your life.
  • The amount of the reduction in your benefit is based upon the age difference between you and the person you name as your beneficiary.
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • Beneficiary must have an insurable interest* in memberís life.

Option 3: 50% Joint and Survivor
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • Reduced monthly retirement benefit.
  • Amount of reduction is based on age difference between you and the person you name as your beneficiary.
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • Upon your death, 50% of your reduced benefit is paid monthly to the beneficiary you name.
  • Your beneficiary must have an insurable interest* in your life.
  • The amount of the reduction in your benefit is based upon the age difference between you and the person you name as your beneficiary.
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • Beneficiary must have an insurable interest* in memberís life.

Option 4: Multiple Beneficiaries
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • Reduced monthly retirement benefit.
  • Amount of reduction is based on service credit and age of beneficiaries.
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • Reduced monthly retirement benefit.
  • This option is sometimes used in the case of divorce, when both a former and current spouse are eligible for a portion of the benefit
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • Beneficiary must have an insurable interest* in memberís life

Lump-sum death benefit
Retirement benefit paid to member
  • N/A
Survivor benefit paid to beneficiary (upon death of retired member)
  • A one-time, lump-sum death benefit in the amount of $3,500 is payable to the beneficiary you name. This benefit is available if your last active service was with the County of San Diego.
Beneficiary eligibility requirements
  • N/A