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Pass Away (Become Deceased) as an OPSRP Member
In the event of your death, a member or representative of your family must call PERS Customer Service at 503-598-7377 or toll free at 888-320-7377 and report it as soon as possible. PERS will request a photocopy of the death certificate.
 
Death Benefits before Retirement
In the event of your death, PERS should be notified right away and will require a photocopy of the death certificate.
 
If you die before retirement, PERS will pay a death benefit to your spouse or to any other person who is constitutionally required to be treated in the same manner as a spouse for the purpose of retirement benefits.
 
The death benefit will be for the life of your spouse or the other person and will be the actuarial equivalent of 50 percent of the pension that would have been paid as a retirement benefit to you.
 
Payment of the death benefit will be as of:
  • your date of death if you die after your earliest retirement date;

  • the date you would have reached age 55 if you were not a police officer or a firefighter at the time of your death and you die before your earliest retirement date; or

  • the date you would have reached age 50 if you were a police officer or a firefighter at the time of your death and you die before your earliest retirement date.
If you reach your earliest retirement date before your death, your surviving spouse or other person must begin receiving death benefits before December 31 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which you died. Your spouse or other person may delay payment as long as payment commences no later than December 31 of the calendar year in which you would have reached age 70½ years.
 
Death Benefits after Retirement
PERS should be notified immediately upon your death and will require a photocopy of your death certificate.
 
When you retire, you may elect to receive a monthly pension benefit that provides survivorship benefits. Those options are a monthly benefit payable for your lifetime that:
  • continues at the same amount for the life of your beneficiary;

  • reverts to a normal retirement benefit if your spouse or other beneficiary dies during your retirement or that reverts to a normal retirement if your marriage relationship or other relationship with the beneficiary is terminated after your retirement. If neither of these events occur, the benefit continues at the same amount for the life of your beneficiary.

  • continues at one-half the amount for the life of your beneficiary; or

  • reverts to a normal retirement benefit if your spouse or other beneficiary dies during your retirement or that reverts to a normal retirement if your marriage relationship or other relationship with the beneficiary is terminated after your retirement. If neither of these events occur, the benefit continues at one-half the amount for the life of your beneficiary.
If you chose a benefit option that reverts to a normal retirement upon death or termination of the relationship between you and your beneficiary, the effective date of the adjusted benefit is the first day of the month following the date of the qualifying event occurred.
 
If you are married on your effective date of retirement of if there exists any other person on your effective date of retirement who is constitutionally required to be treated in the same manner as a spouse for the purposes of retirement benefits ("other person") and you do not designate the spouse or to the person as your beneficiary, you will receive the benefits provided under the third bullet above: a monthly benefit payable for your lifetime that continues at one-half the amount for the life of your beneficiary. Your beneficiary is considered to be your spouse or other person.
 
If you chose a survivorship option and the death benefit payable to your beneficiary is less than $200, PERS will convert the benefit into a lump sum that represents the actuarial equivalent of the present value of the death benefit. The lump sum is in lieu of any other death benefit.
 
Taxation of Death Benefits
Before choosing a payment option, PERS recommends you obtain tax information from the Internal Revenue Service and the Oregon Department of Revenue or a qualified tax advisor. Required minimum distribution rules and restrictions may apply to death benefits. Also, your surviving spouse beneficiary and/or non-spouse beneficiary are subject to different time frames in which they must begin receiving benefits.
 
Under the Internal Revenue Code, distributions by reason of an employee's death that occurred before August 22, 1996, may qualify for a death benefit exclusion of up to $5,000. This exclusion must be applied for when filing tax returns. It is not reported by PERS to the IRS on the final 1099R, per IRS instructions.