In addition to receiving your member contributions balance, your designated beneficiary may receive a death benefit if you die before retiring.
You are covered by an in-service death benefit if you have been credited with at least three months (Tier 1) or one year (Tiers 2-6) of service since last becoming a member, and at the time of death:
- You were in service being paid for employment reportable to this system; or,
- If you are a Tier 1 member, you had been in service within the previous year and had not otherwise been gainfully employed (other than in service reportable to NYSTRS) since leaving teaching; or,
- If you are a Tier 2-6 member, you had been in service within the previous year and had at least one year of continuous employment since last entering your employer's service and had not otherwise been gainfully employed (other than in service reportable to NYSTRS) since leaving teaching; or,
- You had left the payroll because of a disability and had remained disabled until death (Tier 1) or died while on an approved medical leave (Tiers 2-6).
Tier 1 Calculation
The greater of the following:
- One-twelfth of your last 12 months of regular compensation for each year of service, to a maximum of three times your earnings; or,
- The Death Gamble Benefit. Please contact us at (800) 348-7298, Ext. 6110 for more information. (Note: To be eligible for this increased benefit, you must be eligible to retire without any service credit-related reductions in your pension.)
Tiers 2-6 Calculation
Under legislation enacted in 2000, all Tier 2-6 members will be covered by the Paragraph 2 Death Benefit, unless they selected Paragraph 1 (see Tier 1 Calculation above) and it is greater than Paragraph 2. All members joining on or after Jan. 1, 2001, will be covered by the Paragraph 2 Death Benefit.
The benefit is one year's salary* after a year of service, increasing to a maximum of three years' salary after three years or more of service. The benefit is reduced after age 60 by 4% per year, up to a maximum reduction of 40% at age 70. (Reductions begin at age 61; age is not rounded and the reduction is not prorated.)
Under Paragraph 2, if the in-service death benefit is in effect when you retire, coverage may continue after retirement. The benefit would be:
- 1st Year: 50% of the death benefit in effect at retirement;
- 2nd Year: 25% of the benefit at retirement; and,
- 3rd & Ensuing Years: 10% of the benefit in effect at retirement (or at age 60, if you retire after age 59).
To be eligible for the continued coverage in retirement, you must retire no later than one year after you leave the payroll. Employment, other than teaching with a NYSTRS participating employer, between the date you ceased teaching and the date of your retirement will jeopardize your eligibility for this benefit.
*The law limits the amount of salary that can be used in the calculation of the Paragraph 2 Death Benefit. Please see your latest Benefit Profile for this amount.
Any number of primary and contingent beneficiaries may be named, but you must designate at least one primary beneficiary. The same person or persons cannot be designated as both primary and contingent beneficiaries. We can make payment to a contingent beneficiary(ies) only if all primary beneficiaries die before the contingent beneficiary(ies) and you have not changed your designation to provide for a new primary beneficiary(ies). To designate a tertiary beneficiary, please contact the System for additional instructions. If you survive all of the beneficiaries named, we would pay your estate.
You may change your beneficiary designation(s) prior to retirement by filing a Designation of Beneficiary (NET-11.4) form.