Death & Survivor Benefits for Active Members
Either your funeral home or relative should notify TRS by telephone or letter soon after your death in order to facilitate the processing of the necessary paperwork. The executor of the estate or your beneficiary will be sent information concerning the benefits available and forms for requesting the life insurance benefit.
The following is a general description of benefits, but for specific details governing survivor benefits see: Summary Plan Description.
- Life Insurance Benefit
- Surviving Spouse Benefits
- Monthly Survivor Benefits for Children & Other Dependents
- Death of a Member Eligible to Retire
- Refund of Deceased Member’s Contributions
Life Insurance Benefit
You are covered by a life insurance benefit the first day you start work in a TRS-covered position. Coverage continues as long as you remain an active contributing member or are a retiree. A life insurance benefit of $2,000 for active members is paid either to your estate or designated beneficiary. To designate a beneficiary to receive the life insurance benefit, a TRS Form DB-1 must be completed and returned to the retirement system. This benefit is in addition to any other benefits that may accrue and is comparable to a paid-up life insurance policy. This beneficiary designation may be changed, and it is important to keep this designation current. Failure to do so can result in added cost and stress for loved ones during a very difficult time in their lives.
NOTE: Eligibility conditions will require members providing part-time and substitute services to complete at least sixty-nine hundredths of a full contract year before they and their survivors are eligible for survivor benefits and the life insurance benefits. For example, a substitute teacher in a school district which uses a 187-day contract will have to complete 129 days before these benefits are available (if the calculated number of total required days results in a fractional day, it is rounded down to the nearest whole day). A previously retired member who has returned to work is not eligible for a second life insurance benefit from a second account.
If you need to update your beneficiary for your Life Insurance Benefit, please complete the Beneficiary Change Form for Life Insurance (Form DB-1) located on the Forms for Active Members page.
Surviving Spouse Benefits
In addition to any life insurance benefit that a surviving spouse may receive (see above), the basic monthly payment for a spouse who survives a member who was ineligible for retirement is $180 with no restriction on other income. If that surviving spouse’s income from other sources is less than $6,600 per year, the benefit increases to $240 per month. Monthly payments are guaranteed for the surviving spouse’s life (unless the survivor remarried before June 29, 2021, in which case the benefits ceased).
Also, the surviving spouse of an active, contributing member who dies with a minimum of 10 years of TRS service may qualify for an actuarially equivalent annuity. This annuity would become available to the surviving spouse at the time the member would have become eligible for retirement by reason of age. Monthly payments are guaranteed for a surviving spouse’s life (unless the survivor remarried before June 29, 2021, in which case the benefits ceased). Surviving spouses selecting this benefit may receive monthly survivor benefits of $180 or $240 while waiting to qualify for the annuity benefits (provided they did not remarry before June 29, 2021).
A surviving spouse may be eligible for these benefits only if the member designated the spouse as his or her primary beneficiary. A previously retired member who has returned to work is not eligible for survivor benefits from a second account.
Monthly Survivor Benefits for Children & Other Dependents
Your dependent children under age 18 qualify regardless of the income or marital status of the remaining parent. Benefit eligibility ceases at the end of the month the child reaches age 18. Your children may apply for additional benefits after age 18 if they are full-time students in a recognized educational program. Eligibility for benefits beyond age 18 ceases when the student is classified as less than full-time, drops out of school, graduates, or turns age 23. Payments are suspended for the period between high school graduation and full-time enrollment in college. A child’s marriage at any time ceases benefit eligibility.
Dependent parents, or if there are none, a dependent brother or sister, may qualify for survivor benefits in the absence of a widow, widower, minor children, or a physically/mentally disabled adult child. The measure of dependency is proof that the person in question was receiving one-half or more of his or her support from the member at the time of death. The monthly survivor benefit shall terminate upon marriage of the survivor or upon termination of the condition resulting in the dependency.
Number of children
4 or more: $440
One dependent parent: $200
Two dependent parents: $290
Dependent brother or Sister: $165
An additional monthly benefit of $200 is available if you have a disabled adult child whose mental or physical condition is sufficient to cause dependency on you. Eligibility for this payment shall continue for the lifetime of the child, until the time the mental or physical condition creating the dependency no longer exists, or until the child marries.
- Disabled adult child: $200
Benefits under this program shall also be available to adopted children. The Board of Trustees shall be the sole judge of eligibility or dependency, and proper TRS documentation must be completed at the time of retirement to apply for these benefits.
Death of a Member Eligible to Retire
Upon your death, if you are an active, contributing member eligible to retire by reason of service, your spouse or legal dependent, if named as primary beneficiary, may choose in lieu of a refund of your account or survivor benefits, an annuity actuarially equivalent to the annuity that you would have received had you retired the day before death. Your spouse or legal dependent is limited to selecting an option providing either a straight life annuity with refundable balance (Option I) or five-, 10-, 15- or 20-years certain payment (Option II). Your spouse may receive this benefit at the same time that your children are receiving monthly survivor benefits. However, a legal dependent, other than your spouse, would not be eligible to receive this benefit if your children qualify to receive monthly survivor benefits.
This benefit can provide a much larger lifetime payment to the surviving spouse than the regular survivor benefit plan. Refer to the information pamphlet entitled “Service Retirement” for an explanation as to when a member becomes eligible for service retirement.
Refund of Deceased Member’s Contributions
Upon your death, if you are not eligible to retire and have no eligible survivors, your accumulated member contributions, plus interest, are paid either to your designated beneficiary or estate. If survivor benefits terminate before survivor payments equal the refundable amount in your account at the time of death, the difference is paid to your beneficiary or estate.