Edited by LM 4/22/22 Approved by DB 2/25/22


Death/Survivor Benefits


Survivor benefits after the death of a member or a surviving spouse.

How to Report:

To report the death of a member or surviving spouse of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), Judicial Retirement System (JRS), or Elected Public Officers’ Retirement System (EPORS), or National Guard and Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS), Supplemental Annuity Plan (SBS) or Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) please have the following information ready:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Date of death
  • Date of birth
  • Name and contact information for the surviving spouse, if any
  • A contact name and phone number or email address for the person reporting a death

You can report the death by completing the form below and emailing it to or by contacting the Member Service Center.

What to Expect:

  • Information about any benefits payable and any forms required for payment will be mailed to beneficiaries within 4-6 weeks of a report of death.

  • The Division must receive a hard copy, original, and certified death certificate before any benefits can be paid. Some lump sum payments do not require a certified copy.

  • Due to confidentiality requirements, only beneficiaries will receive information on benefits payable. An exception can be the executor of the estate. If you are an executor, please be prepared to provide:

    • Acceptance of Duties by Personal Representative
    • Letters of Testamentary by Court or Letters of Administration by Court
  • For Survivor Benefits: Enrollment is not automatic. Application for Continuing Lifetime Benefit or Survivor Benefit must be received and completed including a hard-copy, original, certified death certificate and proof of marriage for medical coverage. Benefits are effective retroactive to appointment date (1st day of the month after the month of death).

Please note the following:

  1. As a dependent spouse covered by the member’s system paid medical coverage, the coverage will end at the end of the month in which your spouse’s death occurred. It may be effective retroactive to the appointment date if a determination has been made that the surviving spouse qualifies to be re-instated and an application has been processed.
  2. If a benefit payment was distributed after the date of death, then the benefit payment will be recalled from the financial institution.

Beneficiary Designation:

Remember—Payment of death benefits are based on the last designation received by the Division of Retirement and Benefits or Empower Retirement. The Division will research for an up-to-date copy of beneficiary forms pertaining to each fund:

If no beneficiary is designated, or the beneficiary is deceased, the benefits will be paid:

  • To the surviving spouse or, if there is none;
  • In equal parts to the surviving children or, if there are none;
  • In equal parts to the surviving parents or, if there are none;
  • To the member’s estate.

PERS DB (Tier I, II, III)

Nonoccupational Death

When a member dies from nonoccupational causes before retiring, the spouse or other eligible beneficiary is entitled to the death benefits described below.

Non-Vested Members

The death benefit is the balance of the employee contribution account. This may include:

  • Mandatory contributions
  • Voluntary contributions
  • Indebtedness principal and interest payments
  • Interest credited to the account

Vested Members

Spouse Beneficiary
The death benefit for the spouse of a vested or deferred vested member is either:

  • The death benefit is the balance of the employee contribution account. This includes:
    • The same as listed above under non-vested members, and
    • A lump-sum death benefit of $1,000 plus $100 multiplied by the years of credited service.

or

  • A monthly 50% joint and survivor benefit:
    • The 50% joint and survivor benefit is based on the member’s average monthly compensation and years of credited service at the time of death.
    • A spouse must have been married to the member for at least one year to be eligible to receive the 50% joint and survivor benefit. If the death is accidental or occupational, the one-year requirement does not apply.

Other Beneficiary
The beneficiary(s) will receive the vested member death benefits for members as follows:

  • The death benefit is the balance of the employee contribution account. This includes:
    • The same as listed above under non-vested members, and
    • A lump-sum death benefit of $1,000 plus $100 multiplied by the years of credited service.

Occupational Death

When a member dies from job-related causes before retirement or while receiving occupational disability benefits, the spouse or other eligible beneficiary is entitled to a death benefit. The member does not have to be vested to qualify for occupational death benefits.

The spouse is automatically the designated beneficiary if:

  • the spouse was married to the member during part of the member’s employment, and
  • a spouse’s waiver of benefits form was not received by the Division.

If there is no surviving spouse but the member has dependent children, the monthly survivor’s pension will be divided equally among those children.

The monthly survivor’s pension is equal to:

  • PERS (all other): 40% of the member’s gross salary at the time of death.
  • PERS (peace officer or fire fighter): the greater of 50% of the gross salary or 75% of the normal retirement benefit they would have earned when they retired.

At the member’s normal retirement date (by age or service), the benefit changes. The new benefit will be based on the member’s average monthly compensation. This includes potential service accrued as if the member had worked until eligible for normal retirement. The benefit will then be paid as if the member had worked until normal retirement.

The pension amount payable to survivors of members who first entered the PERS before July 1, 1976 will depend on the date the member first entered the PERS, as well as whether the position was classified as “peace officer or fire fighter” or “all others.” These survivors will be allowed to choose to receive benefits under the current law or old law.

Death Benefit Payments

Benefits accrue retroactively back to the first day of the month following the member’s death and are payable at the end of each subsequent month.

  • For a nonoccupational death, monthly death benefits cease when the surviving spouse dies.
  • For an occupational death, benefits stop when there is no longer a surviving spouse or eligible dependent child(ren).

Death After Retirement

When a member dies after retiring, the beneficiary is entitled to the benefit check for the month in which the member dies, if the benefit was paid after the date of death. However, a check payable to a deceased member must be returned to the Division and reissued in the beneficiary’s name. It is illegal to cash a deceased member’s check.

If the member did not select a joint and survivor option, the beneficiary will receive the balance remaining in the employee contribution account, if any, or the member’s last check, if applicable.

A member’s spouse at retirement is eligible for continuing survivor benefits if the member elected to receive their pension benefits under the Joint and Survivor Option. A continuing survivor benefit must be elected if the member is married, unless their spouse agrees to another form of benefit. If the member wishes to continue both pension and health benefits for their spouse in the case of their death, they must have elected a Joint and Survivor Option. Survivor benefits accrue retroactively back to the first day of the month following the member’s death and are payable at the end of each subsequent month.

If a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is in place the surviving benefits will be paid as directed by the QDRO. The monthly benefit a former spouse is receiving from a retiree will cease at the end of the month of the member’s death.

75% Joint and Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. After the member’s death, their spouse would receive a lifetime monthly benefit equal to 75% of the reduced benefit. If the spouse dies first, the benefit does not change.

50% Joint and Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. After the member’s death, their spouse would receive a lifetime monthly benefit equal to 50% of the reduced benefit. If the spouse dies first, the benefit does not change.

66-2/3% Last Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. However, if the member’s spouse dies first, the benefit would be reduced to the 66-2/3% survivor benefit. If the member dies first, their spouse would receive 66-2/3% of the reduced benefit.

If you are a retired member and have selected the 66-2/3% Joint and Survivor Option and your spouse has recently deceased, please contact the Division.

TRS DB (Tiers I, II)

Nonoccupational Death

The beneficiary of a TRS member may alternately receive benefits under the supplemental contributions provision.

Non-Vested Members

The death benefit is the balance of the employee contribution account. This includes 1% supplemental contributions.

For members who are not deferred or retired the death benefit is the balance of the employee contribution account. Including a lump sum death benefit of $1,000 plus $100 multiplied by the years of credited service, and $500 payable if the member is survived by at least one dependent child at the time of death. This benefit is only payable if the member’s dependent child or that child’s parent or legal guardian is the designated beneficiary.

Vested Members

Spouse Beneficiary
The death benefit for the spouse of a vested member is either:

  • The same as non-vested member; or
  • A monthly 50% joint and survivor benefit:
    • The 50% joint and survivor benefit is based on the member’s average base salary and years of credited service at the time of death.
    • A spouse must have been married to the member for at least one year to be eligible to receive the 50% joint and survivor benefit. If the death is accidental or occupational, the one-year requirement does not apply.

Other Beneficiary
The beneficiary(s) will receive the non-vested member death benefits for members.

Occupational Death

When a member dies from job-related causes before retirement or while receiving occupational disability benefits, the spouse or other eligible beneficiary is entitled to a death benefit. The member does not have to be vested to qualify for occupational death benefits.

The spouse is automatically the designated beneficiary if:

  • the spouse was married to the member during part of the member’s employment, and
  • a spouse’s waiver of benefits form was not received by the Division.

If there is no surviving spouse but the member has dependent children, the monthly survivor’s pension will be divided equally among those children.

The monthly survivor’s pension is equal to:

  • 40% of the member’s last base contract salary, divided by 12 months, at the time of death.

At the member’s normal retirement date (by age or service), the benefit changes. The new benefit will be based on the member’s average base salary at the time of death and total service. This includes potential service accrued as if the member had worked until eligible for normal retirement. The benefit will then be paid as if the member had worked until normal retirement.

Death Benefit Payments

Benefits accrue retroactively back to the first day of the month following the member’s death and are payable at the end of each subsequent month.

  • For a nonoccupational death, monthly death benefits cease when the surviving spouse dies.
  • For an occupational death, benefits stop when there is no longer a surviving spouse or eligible dependent child(ren).

Death After Retirement

When a member dies after retiring, the beneficiary is entitled to the benefit check for the month in which the member dies, if the benefit was paid after the date of death. However, a check payable to a deceased member must be returned to the Division and reissued in the beneficiary’s name. It is illegal to cash a deceased member’s check.

If the member did not select a joint and survivor option, the beneficiary will receive the balance remaining in the employee contribution account, if any, or the member’s last check, if applicable.

A member’s spouse at retirement is eligible for continuing survivor benefits if the member elected to receive their pension benefits under the Joint and Survivor Option. A continuing survivor benefit must be elected if the member is married,unless their spouse agrees to another form of benefit. If the member wishes to continue both pension and health benefits for their spouse in the case of their death, they must have elected a Joint and Survivor Option. Survivor benefits accrue retroactively back to the first day of the month following the member’s death and are payable at the end of each subsequent month.

If a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is in place the surviving benefits will be paid as directed by the QDRO. The monthly benefit a former spouse is receiving from a retiree will cease at the end of the month of the member’s death.

75% Joint and Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. After the member’s death, their spouse would receive a lifetime monthly benefit equal to 75% of the reduced benefit. If the spouse dies first, the benefit does not change.

50% Joint and Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. After the member’s death, their spouse would receive a lifetime monthly benefit equal to 50% of the reduced benefit. If the spouse dies first, the benefit does not change.

66-2/3% Last Survivor Option

The benefit is actuarially reduced from what it normally would be. However, if the member’s spouse dies first, the benefit would be reduced to the 66-2/3% survivor benefit. If the member dies first, their spouse would receive 66-2/3% of the reduced benefit.

If you are a retired member and have selected the 66-2/3% Joint and Survivor Option and your spouse has recently deceased, please contact the Division.

1% Supplemental Contributions

Under this provision, TRS members who were first hired before July 1, 1982, may provide survivor benefits to their spouse and dependent children upon their death.

Eligible members were required to elect participation within 90 days of their initial hire date, but they may also elect participation if their written election forms are received by the TRS or postmarked within 90 days of:

  • their most recent TRS hire date, if at least 12 months has elapsed since they were active TRS members,
  • their marriage (a copy of the marriage certificate must be provided to the TRS), or
  • the birth or adoption of a dependent child (a copy of the birth certificate or adoption order must be provided to the TRS).

Members are required to contribute an additional 1% of their base contract salary while participating in this provision. Participating members who terminate and become reemployed are also required to contribute 1% upon reemployment. Participation may be discontinued by sending the Division a Waiver of Supplemental Contributions (form 02-818).

Participating members who are receiving TRS disability benefits are not required to pay the 1% contributions to continue coverage under this provision.

Active members who do not participate in the supplemental provision are covered under the nonoccupational and occupational death provisions. When these members retire, they will be able to provide survivor benefits under a joint and survivor option.

Eligibility Requirements for 1% Supplemental

When members have made the required 1% supplemental contributions, benefits may be payable to their spouse, dependent children, or former spouse(s) if provided for in a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). When a member dies, benefits are payable if:

  • the member was actively employed or on sabbatical leave or approved leave without pay (LWOP) and paid mandatory and 1% supplemental contributions for at least one year immediately before his or her death,
  • the member was disabled and paid 1% supplemental contributions for at least one year immediately before his or her disability, or
  • the member was retired or deferred vested and paid 1% supplemental contributions for at least five years immediately before terminating TRS employment.

1% Supplemental TRS Survivor’s Allowance (Spouse with Dependent Children)

A TRS monthly survivor’s allowance is payable if a deceased member has dependent children and meets the above eligibility requirements.

The survivor’s allowance is based on the member’s annual base salary immediately before the member’s death, retirement, or disability. The monthly allowance is calculated by multiplying that salary by the percentage that applies and dividing that number by 12 months.

  • Dependent Child: The survivor’s allowance is 10% of salary for each dependent child, up to a maximum of four children (40%). The allowance ceases when a child is no longer eligible.
  • Spouse: The survivor’s allowance is 35% of salary for an eligible spouse. The spouse must be legally responsible for the member’s dependent child(ren). This allowance is paid in addition to the above dependent child’s allowance. When there is no longer a dependent child eligible for an allowance, the survivor’s allowance ceases and the spouse becomes eligible for the spouse’s pension.
  • Guardian: The survivor’s allowance is 10% of salary for each court-appointed guardian, up to a maximum of four guardians (40%) if there are four or more children. This allowance is limited to one guardian (10%) for each child and is in addition to the dependent child’s allowance. When there is no longer a dependent child eligible for an allowance, the guardian’s allowance ceases. If a spouse is eligible for the survivor’s allowance, a guardian’s allowance will not be paid.

1% Supplemental Spouse’s Pension (Spouse Only)

A monthly spouse’s pension is payable to the surviving spouse if there are no dependent children and the eligibility requirements have been satisfied. The spouse’s pension is equal to:

  • 50% of the member’s retirement benefit, including post retirement pension adjustments (PRPAs), at the time of the retired member’s death, or
  • 50% of the normal retirement benefit that would have been payable had the member been retired.

Nonoccupational Death

If the member dies before distribution from their retirement account has started, benefits will be paid to their beneficiary in any form of his/her choice other than a joint and survivor annuity. The benefit includes all contributions in the retirement account in which the member is vested, plus investment gains or losses earned, less expenses.

If the member dies after distribution from their retirement account has started, the beneficiary will receive further payments only to the extent provided with the form of payment the member chose at the time they began annuity payments, if any.

Occupational Death

If a member dies from occupational causes before retirement, their spouse or eligible dependents may be entitled to survivor benefits paid monthly until the member would have reached normal retirement eligibility.

Monthly Survivor Benefits

Monthly survivor benefits begin on the first of the month following the date of the member’s death. The monthly survivor benefit will be:

  • Peace officers or fire fighters: 50% of the member’s gross monthly compensation immediately before death.
  • All other members: 40% of the member’s gross monthly compensation immediately before death.

Survivors who are receiving monthly survivor benefits are not eligible for medical benefits until the member would have met the eligibility for normal retirement benefits had they lived.

While Survivors Are Receiving Death Benefits

  • The period during which the survivor is receiving benefits is counted as service credit toward medical benefits and the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
  • The employer will make both the required employer contributions and employee contributions to a survivor account established in the occupational death fund, based on the member’s gross monthly compensation, until they would have reached eligibility for normal retirement.
  • The employer will also make continuing contributions to the member’s HRA account until they would have met eligibility for normal retirement benefits had they lived. These contributions are not deducted from the monthly survivor benefit.
  • The member’s survivors continue to direct the investment of the member’s retirement account; contributions cannot be removed from the retirement account until they would have reached eligibility for normal retirement benefits had they lived.

Death Benefits at Normal Retirement Eligibility

Monthly survivor benefits cease beginning the last day of the month in which the member would have first qualified for normal retirement by either service or age and service. The surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, the beneficiary, will have access to the member’s defined contribution retirement account balance at that time. The account balance will include all contributions, plus investment gains or losses, less expenses, earned over the period invested.

The surviving spouse will receive the balance of the survivor account established in the occupational death fund plus investment gains or losses, less expenses, earned over the period invested.

The surviving spouse will also be eligible to elect retiree medical benefits at that time. Once eligible for medical benefits, the spouse will receive a premium subsidy based on the member’s accrued years of service at the time they would have been eligible for Medicare had they lived.

Judicial Retirement System (JRS)

If a JRS member has accrued at least two years of credited service and has been married for at least one year to their spouse when they die, JRS provides an automatic survivor benefit of 50% of the member’s accrued benefit at the time of their death (or of the actual benefit if the member was retired). If the member has accrued a benefit formula percentage of less than 60% at the time of their death, the survivor benefit may not be less than 30% of the current base salary of their judicial office. If there is no surviving spouse, but there are dependent children, 50% of the above benefit may be divided in equal shares to dependent children for the duration of their dependency. If there is no spouse or dependent children, the contribution account balance, less any benefits the member has been paid, will be paid to their designated beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Elected Public Officials' Retirement System (EPORS)

EPORS provides an automatic survivor benefit of 50% of the member’s accrued benefit at the time of their death (or of the actual benefit if the member was retired). If the member has accrued a benefit formula percentage of less than 60% at the time of their death, the survivor benefit may not be less than 30% of the base salary of their public office or the public office from which they retired. If there is no surviving spouse, but there are dependent children, 50% of the above benefit may be divided in equal shares to dependent children for the duration of their dependency.

National Guard and Naval Militia Retirement System (NGNMRS)

For active members: If you have at least five years of satisfactory Alaska guard service, your full accrued benefit (months of service x $100.00) is payable in one lump sum to your beneficiary or beneficiaries.

For members receiving a NGNMRS benefit at the time of death, any remaining benefit is payable in one lump sum to your beneficiary or beneficiaries.

PERS and TRS

If, at the time of death, the member was:

  • Active, deferred, or receiving non-occupational disability benefits, vested and married at least one year, and the surviving spouse elects a continuing lifetime benefit; or
  • Receiving occupational disability benefits; or
  • A Joint and Survivor retiree married to their spouse from the time of retirement; or
  • A Joint and Survivor retiree, divorced post-retirement from their spouse from the time of retirement

Then the survivor is eligible for:

  1. PERS/TRS Tier I

    • System-paid major medical, including prescriptions, for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents; and
    • A one-time option to purchase long-term care (LTC) for the survivor only; and
    • A one-time option to purchase dental/vision/audio (DVA) for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents.
  2. TRS Tier I Only

    If, at the time of death, a 1% supplemental retired or deferred vested member leaves a dependent child, and supplemental contributions have been made under AS 14.25.055 for at least five years of credited service, then the dependent child is entitled to:

    • System-Paid Major Medical, including prescriptions; and
    • A one-time option to purchase dental/vision/audio (DVA).
  3. PERS/TRS Tier II

    For all of the conditions above for Tier I, and:

    • The survivor is age 60 or over on appointment date; or
    • The member had at least 30’ years credited service (peace officer/firefighter, 25 years’ credited service)

    Then the survivor is eligible for:

    • System-paid major medical, including prescriptions, for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents; and
    • A one-time option to purchase long-term care (LTC) for the survivor only; and
    • A one-time option to purchase dental/vision/audio (DVA) for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents.

    For all of the conditions above, and:

    • The survivor is not yet age 60; and
    • The member had less than 30 years’ credited service (peace officer/firefighter, 25 years’ credited service)

    Then the survivor is eligible for:

    • Major medical, including prescriptions. The survivor must pay premiums until age 60 (or as long as coverage is desired) and may enroll at appointment (no pre-existing condition limitation applies) or during open enrollment (pre-existing condition limitation applies); and
    • Dental/vision/audio (DVA). The survivor may enroll at appointment with or without major medical, or during open enrollment with new major medical, or wait until the final opportunity to enroll at age 60.
    • Long-term care (LTC). The survivor may enroll in new LTC coverage or elect to continue the survivor’s LTC plan elected at retirement by the member at appointment only.
  4. PERS Tier III

    For all of the conditions above for Tier I, and:

    • The member had less than 10 years’ credited service (used to calculate benefit);

    Then the survivor must self-pay all premiums for coverage elected.

    For all of the conditions above for Tier I, and:

    • The member had at least 10 years’ credited service; and
    • The survivor is age 60 or over on appointment date; or
    • The member had at least 30 years’ credited service (peace officer/firefighter, 25 years’ credited service):

    Then the survivor is eligible for:

    • System-paid major medical, including prescriptions, for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents; and
    • A one-time option to purchase long-term care (LTC) for the survivor only; and
    • A one-time option to purchase dental/vision/audio (DVA) for the survivor and the member’s eligible dependents.

    For all of the conditions above for Tier I, and:

    • The member had at least 10 years’ credited service; and
    • The survivor is not yet age 60; or
    • The member had less than 30 years’ credited service (peace officer/firefighter, 25 years’ credited service)

    Then the survivor is eligible for:

    • Major medical, including prescriptions. The survivor must pay premiums until age 60 and may enroll at appointment (no pre-existing condition limitation applies) or during open enrollment (pre-existing condition limitation applies); and
    • Dental/vision/audio (DVA). The survivor may enroll at appointment with or without major medical, or during open enrollment with new major medical, until age 60.
    • Long-term care (LTC). The survivor may enroll at appointment only.
  5. PERS and TRS DCR Plan

    Based on the member’s reported years of service, the surviving spouse may qualify for medical coverage. The Member Services Contact Center would confirm eligibility, premium rates, and the procedure to sign up for medical benefits and provide additional information. In addition, the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) may be available for you to offset eligible medical expenses. Dental, Vision, and Audio (DVA) coverage and long-term care coverage are a separate supplemental option.

  6. Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

    • The ex-spouse may purchase major medical ONLY, and only within 60 days of the first monthly benefit being paid.
    • The ex-spouse may NOT purchase Dental/vision/audio (DVA) or long-term care (LTC). Medical benefits, dental/vision/audio benefits (DVA), or long-term care (LTC) benefits may be purchased depending on the QDRO and whether the divorce/dissolution is pre-retirement.
  7. COBRA Benefits for PERS, TRS, and EPORS

    COBRA medical benefits can be purchased within 90 days of termination of the member’s coverage for up to 18 months by or for former enrolled dependents. Survivors may continue to direct-bill for prior-enrolled Long-Term Care (LTC) coverage.

    Applies to members that were:

    • Active, non-vested, married less than a year, not married during service, or not married at time of death;
    • Vested, and the surviving spouse elects lump sum payment only;
    • A retiree that chose the Regular or Level Income Option at retirement;
    • A current spouse of a Joint and Survivor retiree that was married, but not to spouse from the time of retirement.
    • QDRO recipient.
Page Last Modified: 07/21/22 14:35:07