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Benefits for Beneficiaries of Members who die in Retired Membership Status

When a Retired Member dies, the benefits available to the deceased Member's Beneficiary depend upon:

  • The retirement benefit option selected by the Member when they retired;
  • Whether the Member received a service retirement, nonservice-connected disability or a service-connected disability retirement; and
  • The Beneficiary's relationship to the Member:
    • Spouse, registered domestic partner or minor child, or
    • Other (e.g., brother, sister, adult child, friend, estate, trust, etc.)

The Beneficiary of a deceased Retired Member is eligible to receive one or more of the following:

  1. $3,500 Death Benefit.

    Beneficiary(ies) will receive a total of $3,500 upon the death of the Retired Member. If more than one Beneficiary is designated, each beneficiary will receive that percentage of the total $3,500 benefit indicated on the Beneficiary Designation form. If the Member did not designate a Beneficiary or if the designated Beneficiary is deceased, the $3,500 death benefit will be paid to the Member's estate.

    The Beneficiary(ies) can choose whether the $3,500 benefit is paid in a one-time lump-sum or in monthly payments paid over a period not to exceed 10 years, plus interest.

  2. Monthly Continuance Benefit.

    The deceased Member's Beneficiary also may be eligible to receive a lifetime monthly continuance benefit depending upon the retirement benefit option selected by the deceased Member and the Beneficiary's relationship to the Member.

    Unmodified Benefit
    If the deceased Member selected SDCERA's Unmodified benefit and was receiving either service retirement or a nonservice-connected disability benefit, their eligible spouse or registered domestic partner may receive a lifetime monthly continuance benefit of 60% of the monthly benefit that the Member was receiving at the time of the Member's death.

    If the deceased Member selected SDCERA's Unmodified benefit and was receiving a service-connected disability benefit, their eligible spouse or registered domestic partner may receive a lifetime monthly continuance benefit of 100% of the monthly benefit that the Member was receiving at the time of the Member's death.

    For a spouse or registered domestic partner to receive a lifetime monthly continuance, they must have been:

    • Married or registered with the Member for at least one year prior to their service retirement or nonservice-connected disability retirement;
    • Married or registered with the Member prior to the date of their service-connected disability retirement; or
    • Married or registered for at least two years prior to the date of death and be at least age 55 at the time of the Member's death.

    A minor child will receive the monthly continuance benefit if there is no eligible spouse or registered domestic partner. The minor child will receive the monthly continuance benefit until the age of 18 or until age 22 if the minor child is not married and is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college.

    Option 2 Benefit
    A Beneficiary of a deceased Member who selected SDCERA's Option 2 benefit will receive a lifetime monthly continuance benefit of 100% of the monthly benefit amount that the Member was receiving at the time of the Member's death. The amount of the continuance will be actuarially reduced if the deceased Member named a non-spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than the Member.

    Option 3 Benefit
    A Beneficiary of a deceased Member who selected SDCERA's Option 3 benefit will receive a lifetime monthly continuance benefit of 50% of the monthly benefit amount that the Member was receiving at the time of the Member's death.

    Option 4 Benefit
    The Beneficiaries of a deceased Member who selected SDCERA's Option 4 benefit will receive a portion of the lifetime monthly continuance benefit as indicated by the Member when they retired.

  3. Return of Member Contributions and Interest.

    The Beneficiary of a deceased Member who selected SDCERA's Option 1 benefit will receive a return of the Member's remaining contributions and interest, if any.

    The Beneficiary of a deceased Member who selected SDCERA's Unmodified benefit will receive a return of the Member's remaining contributions and interest, if any. This benefit only applies when the Beneficiary is not eligible to receive a monthly continuance benefit and there are remaining Member contributions.