This is such an important question and a must for you to know. Most members designate a beneficiary to receive their ordinary death benefit when they first join the retirement system. That could have been years ago and the beneficiary you designated then might not be the person you would want to receive this benefit now. The beneficiary(ies) you last designated may be entitled to a substantial sum upon your death. And, if your death occurs after you retire, your beneficiary(ies) may be entitled to a post-retirement death benefit (not available to beneficiaries of Tier 1 members or vested members who retire more than one year after leaving public employment).
If it's been awhile and you're not sure who you've designated to receive any death benefit that may become payable, check your latest Member Annual Statement. Your primary and contingent beneficiary designations are listed on page 5; however, their addresses are not part of the information contained on this document. It is vital you keep the name and address information of your beneficiaries up to date. If we're unable to locate your beneficiaries because we don't have their correct information, we may not be able to pay any death benefit they are entitled to receive.
For security reasons, we do not provide or confirm any beneficiary information over the phone. If the persons listed on your Member Annual Statement are not who you want to receive your death benefit, or if their names and/or addresses have changed since your initial designation, now is the time to update. Remember, we are required by law to pay your ordinary death benefit to your last designated beneficiaries.
So, if you need to change or update your member beneficiary information, be sure to complete a new Designation of Beneficiary Form (RS5127), available on our website or from your employer.
For more information on designating a beneficiary, including trusts and special designations, read our publication, Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary? (VO1706), available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/publications/vo1706.php.
NOTE: If you are a retired member receiving a pension benefit under Option ½, 1, or the 5 or 10 Year Certain option, you can change or update your pension beneficiary designation information using form RS4411, also available on our website and from our call center. Retired members who elected one of the joint allowances can update their beneficiary's address by sending us a signed letter. Be sure to include your retirement number in your letter.
Every month state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, sole trustee of the New York State and Local Employees' Retirement System, provides information on the system, which delivers retirement benefits to many NYSUT School-Related Professionals and other support staff. If you are an ERS member with a question of general interest, email email@example.com.
For immediate assistance, contact the ERS Call Center toll-free at 866-805-0990, or 518-474-7736 in the Capital District area.