Pre-Retirement Death Benefits
Categories - If you die before you retire, CalPERS provides several benefits for your family or the beneficiary(ies) named by you. For miscellaneous employees (non-safety), CalPERS divides pre-retirement death benefits into two categories: Not Eligible To Retire at the time of death, and Eligible to Retire. For safety employees (fire, police & lifeguards), CalPERS divides the pre-retirement death benefits into two categories: Not Job-Related Death and Job-Related Death.
Limited Death Benefit
To those who separate from CalPERS-covered employment: upon your death, your beneficiary will receive the limited death benefit (a refund of your contributions plus interest). No other benefit will be payable, except as provided by law under special circumstances. The limited death benefit will be paid in the following order: (1) your named beneficiary, or (2) spouse, or (3) children, or (4) parents, or (5) brothers and sisters, or (6) your estate if probated, (7) trust, or (8) next of kin, as provided by law.
Naming a Beneficiary
To designate a beneficiary, or update an earlier designation, you must fill out a CalPERS Beneficiary Designation (form 0772). This form is available on the CalPERS website under Publications. Certain death benefits allow you to name anyone you choose as a beneficiary. If you name a beneficiary and then (1) marry, (2) initiate an annulment, or dissolution of marriage, (3) have a child or adopt a child, (4) terminate your employment and receive a refund of your CalPERS contributions, your designation will, by law, be revoked.
Comparison of Pre-Retirement Death Benefits
Post-Retirement Death Benefits
When you retire, you may choose to receive the unmodified allowance, or you can take a reduction to your allowance based on the option you select.
The unmodified allowance is the highest amount payable to you that ends upon your death. Each of the options provides a benefit to your named beneficiary after your death. Option 1 provides a lump-sum payment of your remaining contributions. Option 2, 2W, 3, 3W, or 4 provides a monthly allowance. The reduction to your unmodified allowance changes based on the option you choose. "Option factors" are used to determine this reduction. The amount of the reduction is based on tables that take into consideration your age and the age of your beneficiary. More information on the various options is available in the CalPERS Member Benefit publications.
For further information, review the Death Benefits section on the CalPERS website.