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All about beneficiaries

A beneficiary is a person or entity (e.g., a trust or charity) that will receive proceeds from your financial accounts upon your death.

At PERS, this could involve your pension benefits and your Individual Account Program (IAP) funds.

If you also participate in the Oregon Savings Growth Plan (OSGP), beneficiaries apply to your OGSP account as well. OSGP is a voluntary plan that allows eligible public employees to save more for retirement.


Learn about the importance of naming beneficiaries in this video from PERS and the Oregon Savi​ngs Growth Plan (OSGP).

Naming (ak​a “designating​”) your beneficiaries​ and keeping your designations up to date are an important part of your retirement planning.​

Keeping your beneficiary choices current can:

  • Help to avoid confusion as to who receives your financial assets after your death. Note that designated beneficiaries may take priority over any person or entity named in other estate planning documents, such as wills and trusts.
  • Save time in getting funds transferred to your beneficiaries.
  • Help to ensure the financial wellness of your loved ones, such as a surviving spouse.

Don’t forget to update your beneficiary choices when certain life events occur, such as marriages, births or adoptions, divorces, and deaths of previously named beneficiaries.

Oregon law sets the options PERS members have in naming beneficiaries.

Tier One and Tier Two members can select beneficiaries for both their pension benefits and IAP accounts.

Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP) beneficiary options are limited by law. If you’re an OPSRP member and die before retirement, PERS will only pay a death benefit to your spouse, your former spouse under a court order (such as a divorce decree), or to any other person required to be treated like a spouse for the purpose of retirement benefits. OPSRP members can name beneficiaries for their IAP accounts.

As a Tier One/Tier Two member, if you have designated a beneficiary and die before retirement, PERS will pay the amounts in your member and IAP accounts to your designated beneficiary.

If your death meets certain criteria, your employer may pay your beneficiary an additional amount that matches the value of your Tier One or Tier Two member account.

If your spouse is your sole Tier One or Tier Two beneficiary, they can receive the Optional Spouse Death Benefit (OSDB), which is a lifetime monthly payment based on your salary and service credit, if certain conditions are met:

  • You are working for a PERS-participating employer at the time of your death, or your death is within 120 days after your employment ended.
  • Survivors immediately notify PERS about your death.
  • Your spouse completes an OSDB estimate/election form that PERS sends them. PERS must receive the form from your spouse within 60 days from your date of death. Postmarks do not count.

As an OPSRP member, if you have designated a beneficiary for your IAP and die before retirement, PERS will pay the amounts in your IAP to your designated beneficiary.

For your OPSRP pension, you do not need to designate a beneficiary because this is already set for you by law. If an OPSRP member dies before retirement, the only eligible beneficiaries are a spouse, a registered domestic partner, or a former spouse or a minor child as directed by court order.​ Therefore, no pension death benefit will be provided to the survivors of single OPSRP members.

Your spouse or registered d​​omestic partner will receive a monthly death benefit for their lifetime. After January 1, 2022, if you are eligible to retire at the time of your death, the death benefit will be worth 100% of the actuarial value of the pension you would have received in retirement. If you are not eligible to retire when you die, the death benefit will be worth 50% instead. (Read more about retirement eligibility.)

As for your IAP, your beneficiary options vary depending on whether you are married or single. Read the IAP Pre-Retirement Designation of Beneficiary Packet instructions for more information.

If you participate in OSGP, you can choose between standard or specific beneficiary designations.

Standard beneficiary designations list next of kin in priority order for receiving proceeds from financial accounts, such as spouse, then children, then parents.

Under the specific designation option, you fill in the names of the primary and contingent beneficiaries you want.


To designate or update your PERS beneficiaries, complete and submit beneficiary forms for your membership type:

Submit PERS beneficiary forms directly to PERS; turning them into your employer doesn't count.

Oregon Savings Growth Plan (OSGP)

Visit OSGP’s Forms Library for information about beneficiary designations.