Employers' Pensions and Benefits Administration Manual (EPBAM)
   

 

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Death Benefits


In the event of a member's death while in service, the importance of contacting the Division of Pensions and Benefits immediately to report the member's death cannot be stressed enough. A family member or survivor of the deceased should provide the required information at the time of notification, including: the member's name, current address, Social Security number or retirement number, date of death, and the prospective beneficiary's name, address, and telephone number (or the name, address, and telephone number of the person handling the deceased member's affairs). Contacting the Division by telephone, by calling (609) 292-7524 and selecting the option to "Report a Death", or by e-mail, are both acceptable means of reporting a member's death to the Division of Pensions and Benefits. Upon notification the claim will be opened and the last designated beneficiary on file will be notified.  Fact Sheet #10 offers further information about reporting a death.

     
 

Death in Service - Active Members

 
   

PERS and TPAF
SPRS and PFRS
JRS

 
 

Death in Service - Accidental Death

 
  Death in the Course of Volunteer Service  
 

Fact Sheet 65, Volunteer Emergency-Worker’s   Survivors Pension (VESP)
May 2003 Certifying Officer Letter, Volunteer   Emergency-Worker's Survivors Pension (VESP)
Application for Volunteer Emergency-Worker's   Survivors Pension (VESP)
 
 

Death After Retirement

 
     

Death in Service - Active Members

PERS and TPAF

When an active member dies, but not as a direct result of regular or assigned duties, his or her named beneficiaries are entitled to the payment of the return of accumulated deductions, plus the active group life insurance benefit. The group life insurance benefit amount depends on whether the member was covered by Noncontributory Group Life Insurance, Contributory Group Life Insurance, or both (PERS or TPAF).

For employer information about delayed enrollments and back
Contributory Group Life Insurance premiums
, click here.

PFRS and SPRS

When an active member dies, but not as a direct result of regular or assigned duties, his or her named beneficiaries are entitled to the payment of the active group life insurance benefit. PFRS and SPRS group life insurance benefits consist of Noncontributory Group Life Insurance ONLY, depending on the membership status at the time of death.

In addition, the member's surviving spouse1, civil union partner2, or eligible same-sex domestic partner3 will receive a pension of 50% of the member's Final Compensation. If there is no surviving spouse1, civil union partner2, or eligible same-sex domestic partner3, a pension is paid to (a) dependent child(ren), in the amount of: 20% of Final Compensation to one child, 35% of Final Compensation to two children, or 50% of Final Compensation to three or more children. If there is no spouse1, civil union partner2, or eligible same-sex domestic partner3, or no dependent child(ren), a pension is paid to parents receiving at least half of their support from the member, in the amount of 25% of Final Compensation if there is one parent, or 40% of Final Compensation if there are two parents.

If there is no surviving spouse1, civil union partner2, eligible same-sex domestic partner3, child(ren), or parent(s), the member’s contributions are paid to his or her named beneficiary. In the event that a specific beneficiary has not been named, the funds will be paid to the member's estate.

1A surviving spouse is a person of the opposite sex to whom you were married on the date of your death and who has not remarried or entered into a new civil union. A photocopy of the Marriage Certificate is required for verification.

2A surviving civil union partner is a person of the same sex with whom the member had entered into a civil union and who has not entered into a new civil union or remarried. A photocopy of the New Jersey Civil Union Certificate or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex civil unions is required for verification.

3This is an eligible same-sex domestic partner who has not entered into a new civil union or remarried. An eligible same-sex domestic partner is defined under Chapter 246, P.L. 2003, the Domestic Partnership Act, as the domestic partner of any State employee, State retiree, or an eligible employee or retiree of a local public entity if the local governing body adopts a resolution to provide Chapter 246 pension benefits. A photocopy of the New Jersey Certificate of Domestic Partnership dated prior to February 19, 2007, or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex domestic partners, is required for verification.

(In order for a same-sex domestic partner to receive death benefits under the Domestic Partnership Act, the member must have entered into a domestic partnership with the same-sex domestic partner, and received a New Jersey Certificate of Domestic Partnership through application to a local registrar.)

The Domestic Partnership Act applies to any State employee or State retiree who has obtained a New Jersey Certificate of Domestic Partnership (or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex domestic partners, civil unions, or similar same-sex relationships). A State employee includes employees of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches paid through Centralized Payroll, employees of Rutgers University, UMDNJ, NJIT, and the State colleges and universities, and employees of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the NJ Building Authority, the State Library, the Waterfront Commission of NY Harbor, and the Commerce and Economic Growth Commission. A State retiree is any retiree from one of the above mentioned employers. The Domestic Partnership Act also applies to eligible employees and retirees of local public entities only if the governing body adopts the benefit by resolution or ordinance (see Adoption by Local Public Entities, below). The local public employee or retiree must also obtain a New Jersey Certificate of Domestic Partnership from the State of New Jersey (or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex domestic partners, civil unions, or similar same-sex relationships). For more information, please see Fact Sheet #71, Benefits under the Domestic Partnership Act.

JRS

When an active member dies, but not as a direct result of regular or assigned duties, his or her named beneficiaries are entitled to the payment of the active group life insurance benefit. The Group Life Insurance Benefit amount depends on whether the member was covered by Noncontributory Group Life Insurance, Contributory Group Life Insurance*, or both (JRS).

*All active judges of the Judicial Retirement System (JRS) who work full-time on a regular basis are now eligible to participate in optional Contributory Group Life Insurance. This option became effective on May 1, 2001.

In addition, the member's surviving spouse1, civil union partner2, or eligible same-sex domestic partner3 will receive a pension of 25% of the member's Final Salary. Upon the death of an active member, the member's eligible surviving spouse, civil union partner, or same-sex domestic partner receives a statutory pension benefit equal to 25 percent of the member's Final Salary, plus 10 percent of Final Salary to one dependent child; or 15 percent of Final Salary divided evenly between two or more dependent children.

If there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner, or same-sex domestic partner, or the member's spouse, civil union partner, or same-sex domestic partner dies or remarries or enters into a civil union with a new civil union partner, the following benefit is payable to the member's eligible children: 15 percent of Final Salary to one dependent child; or 20 percent of Final Salary divided evenly between two dependent children; or 30 percent of Final Salary to be divided evenly among three or more dependent children.

If there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner, eligible same-sex domestic partner or dependent child(ren), a pension is paid to the member's eligible parent(s) as follows: 20 percent of Final Salary to one dependent parent, or 30 percent of Final Salary divided evenly between two dependent parents.

If there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner, eligible same-sex domestic partner, child(ren), or parent(s), the member’s contributions are paid to his or her named beneficiary. In the event a specific beneficiary is not named, the funds will be paid to the member's estate.

Employer Responsibilities Include:

Completion of the Certification of Service and Final Salary -- Death Claim (sometimes referred to as a "P-29") which is also an acceptable form of notification of a death. 

You must provide the most recent salary and pension contribution information for the period prior to the date of death of the member. This is required in order to avoid the delay of waiting for the Quarterly Report of Contributions before processing the claim. 

Also indicated on this form is the employment status of the member at the time of death. This includes the last day of active service, if the member resigned or was on leave of absence without pay, etc. 

The completed certification should be returned to the Division of Pensions and Benefits within three days of receipt (faxes are acceptable to initiate a claim, but the original must be forwarded to the Division immediately).

Important!

You MUST complete Section #7: "Was member on an official leave of absence with or without pay?" If you indicate that a member was on an approved leave of absence without pay, you must give the date the leave was granted, the reason for the leave and supporting documentation.

The following documents should accompany the Certification of Service and Final Salary -- Death Claim if the deceased member was on leave at the time of death:

  • Board minutes/administrative approval of a leave of absence, or;
  • Any written documentation approving a leave; the document must indicate whether the member was on a leave without pay. This document must also include the start date and end date of the approved leave and the reason for leave.

**** Failure to complete this portion will result in a delay in the processing of the death claim. ****


Death in Service - Accidental Death

If an active member dies as a direct result of an accident while in the performance of regular or assigned duties and the death is NOT a result of willful negligence, then "Accidental Death" benefits may be awarded to the member's beneficiary(ies) by the Board of Trustees of the appropriate retirement system.

Accidental Death benefits include the payment of group life insurance benefits (Noncontributory, and Contributory, if in effect) plus a pension benefit to the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner, in the amount of:

  • 50 percent of the member's Final Salary for PERS and TPAF members;
  • 70 percent for PFRS and SPRS members; OR
  • 25 percent for JRS members.

PERS, TPAF and JRS: This pension benefit will cease if the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner of the deceased PERS, TPAF, and JRS member subsequently remarries or enters into a new civil union after the member's date of death.

PFRS and SPRS: Under Chapter 181, P.L. 2003, this is a lifetime benefit for the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner of the deceased PFRS and SPRS member; it will continue regardless of whether the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or same-sex domestic partner of the PFRS and SPRS member subsequently remarries or enters into a civil union after the member's date of death.

Please consult the "Recent Legislation" of the Division's Web site for additional information about Chapter 181, P.L. 2003, (which took effect on September 12, 2003).

For further details concerning benefits if there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner, refer to the appropriate member handbook (PERS, TPAF, PFRS, SPRS, JRS; for PERS special groups, additional information can be found in the specific member handbook addenda: PERS Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) Addendum; PERS Legislative Retirement System Addendum; PERS Prosecutors Part Addendum; PERS Workers' Compensation Judges Addendum).

All requests for Accidental Death benefits should be referred to the appropriate Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The notification should be provided in writing by submitting the Employer Certification - Accidental Death on Duty form or by letter.

The Board Secretary will request the following information from the employer:

The Board Secretary will request the following information from the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner:

  • Application for Accidental Death Benefits
  • For Police and Firemen's Retirement System members ONLY: Affidavit of Dependency
  • Death Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate from a surviving spouse, OR New Jersey Civil Union Certificate from a surviving civil union partner, or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes civil unions; OR New Jersey Certificate of Domestic Partnership, or a valid certification from another jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships;
  • Income Tax Return for the last year before the member's date of death or date of accident.

Important - The Report of Death must be filed with the Division within 60 days of the event. The Board of Trustees may waive the time limit for a reasonable period but under no circumstances should the application be filed beyond five years from the date of death.

Death in the Course of Volunteer Service (VESP Benefit)

Chapter 168, P.L. 1957 authorizes municipalities to pay pensions to widows/widowers and to minor children of local volunteer personnel who die in the course of volunteer service. Chapter 134, P.L. 2002 revises this statute by broadening the eligible volunteer personnel to include emergency medical technicians, expanding the survivors who are eligible for the survivor benefit, and increasing the annual pension payable. Chapter 134 is retroactive to January 1, 2000.

Eligible Volunteer Personnel

Volunteer personnel who are now eligible for this benefit include:

  • Firefighters
  • First Aid Workers
  • Rescue Squad Workers
  • Emergency Medical Technicians

Eligible Survivors

The survivors eligible to receive the pension include surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner; children if the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner subsequently remarries or enters into a civil union partnership; and parents if the volunteer has no surviving spouse, civil union partner, eligible same-sex domestic partner, or children.

Survivor's Pension

The amount of the annual pension paid is set at $15,000 per year for the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner of the volunteer, as long as the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner does not subsequently remarry or enter a civil union partnership (increased from $5,000).

If there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner or the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner has subsequently remarried or entered into a civil union partnership, an annual pension of $10,000 will be paid to minor children;

If there is no surviving spouse, civil union partner or eligible same-sex domestic partner; or minor children, an annual pension of $5,000 will be paid to the parents of the volunteer.

Additional Information

When a volunteer emergency service worker (see list above) dies while responding to, preparing for, or returning from an emergency while under orders from a competent authority, the municipality may determine that the surviving spouse, civil union partner, or eligible same-sex domestic partner; or children; or parent of a volunteer is eligible for a survivor's pension. After the municipality makes this determination, its muncipal clerk files a certified copy of the resolution with the State Treasurer within 10 days of adoption.

The State will then pay the pension for volunteers whose death occurs on or after January 1, 2000. The pension will begin in the calendar year after the year of death or the year following the law's enactment, whichever is later.

For additional information about the VESP Benefit, please see:

Death after Retirement

In the event of a retired member's death, a family member or survivor of the deceased should contact the Division of Pensions and Benefits immediately to report the retiree's death. The Division of Pensions and Benefits requires the following information: the member's name, current address, Social Security number, date of death, and the prospective beneficiary's name, address, and telephone number (or the name, address, and telephone number of the person handling the deceased's affairs). Contacting the Division by telephone, by calling (609) 292-7524 and selecting the option to "Report a Death", or by e-mail, are both acceptable means of reporting a member's death to the Division of Pensions and Benefits.

Upon notification the claim will be opened and the last designated beneficiary on file will be notified.

Not all retirees are covered by group life insurance after retirement. The law states that a member enrolled after July 1, 1971, must have at least 10 years of credited service at retirement to be covered by this benefit, with the exception of those retired on a disability retirement. Group life insurance does not apply to retirees of the Consolidated Police and Firemen's Pension Fund (CPFPF) or the Prison Officers' Pension Fund (POPF).

For specific information about group life insurance benefits in retirement, click here.

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Last Updated: June 24, 2013