Skip Navigation
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Survivors & Beneficiaries

If you are the survivor or beneficiary of a MERS member or participant, this section can help answer some common questions about MERS benefits. Click the links below for information about benefits. You'll need to know the specific MERS plan on which you are the named beneficiary. Click here for help answering that question, or click the links below to jump to that section.

Defined Benefit Plan  •  Defined Contribution Plan  •  Hybrid Plan  •  Health Care Savings Program  •  457 Program 

 

 

Defined Benefit Plan

Beneficiaries are eligible for a death benefit depending on which one of the three forms of payment were chosen when the member first retired:

1.   Straight Life — highest monthly payment paid for the member's lifetime, with no monthly survivor benefits.

2.   Life with 100%, 75% or 50% to survivor — a reduced monthly benefit that provides a chosen percentage to one beneficiary for life. The beneficiary cannot be changed after retirement.

3.   Life with 20, 15, 10, or 5 year period certain — provides a monthly benefit to the retiree as long as they live. If the retiree dies before the period certain ends, the beneficiary(ies) receives the payment until the period certain ends.

Forms you may need to complete:

For more information, refer to the Defined Benefit Plan Member Handbook or call our Service Center. 

Defined Contribution Plan

Defined Contribution Plan beneficiaries have the same investment privileges as participants, and can choose to invest in any of the funds offered, or to receive the account balance under certain circumstances.

A spouse is always the primary beneficiary and is entitled to 100 percent of benefits unless, they waive this right in writing. If you have no spouse (or your spouse waives their rights), you may choose one or more persons as your primary beneficiary (one who receives your account balance at your time of death), or a contingent beneficiary (one who'll receive your account balance if your primary beneficiary is no longer living). A trust, estate or any legal entity may also be named as beneficiary.

Forms you may need to complete:

For more information, please review the Defined Contribution Plan Member Handbook or call our Service Center.

 

Hybrid Plan

The MERS Hybrid Plan has two distinct parts, each with its own set of requirements:

Hybrid Plan Part I — Defined Benefit

Beneficiaries are eligible for a death benefit depending on which one of the three forms of payment were chosen when the member first retired:

1.   Straight Life — highest monthly payment paid for the member's lifetime, with no monthly survivor benefits.

2.   Life with 100%, 75% or 50% to survivor — a reduced monthly benefit that provides a chosen percentage to one beneficiary for life. The beneficiary cannot be changed after retirement.

3.   Life with 20, 15, 10, or 5 year period certain — provides a monthly benefit to the retiree as long as they live. If the retiree dies before the period certain ends, the beneficiary(ies) receives the payment until the period certain ends.

Forms you may need to complete:

Hybrid Plan Part II — Defined Contribution

Beneficiaries have the same investment privileges as participants for Hybrid Plan Part II, and can choose to invest in any of the funds offered, or to receive the account balance under certain circumstances.

A spouse is always the primary beneficiary and is entitled to 100 percent of benefits unless, they waive this right in writing. If you have no spouse (or your spouse waives their rights), you may choose one or more persons as your primary beneficiary (one who receives your account balance at your time of death), or a contingent beneficiary (one who'll receive your account balance if your primary beneficiary is no longer living). A trust, estate or any legal entity may also be named as beneficiary.

Forms you may need to complete:

For more information, please review your MERS Hybrid Retirement Plan Member Handbook or call our Service Center.

Health Care Savings Program

The MERS Health Care Savings Program offers the benefit of the account to a beneficiary and contingent beneficiary. 

In the event of the participant's death, a spouse and legal dependent(s) can continue to use the account for reimbursement of medical expenses. MERS will work with the spouse/legal dependents and inform them on how to use the account on a tax-free basis. If there is no spouse or legal dependent(s), the named beneficiary will be able to access the account on a taxable basis. 

For more information, please contact our Service Center.

 

457 Program

The 457 Program features two types of beneficiary — primary and contingent. The primary beneficiary — or contingent beneficiary if the primary is deceased — will receive the account balance. They have the same account privileges, including electing to invest in any of the funds offered or requesting distributions.

To begin using the account, a beneficiary should contact us as soon as possible. 

Forms you may need to complete:

Note: The rules regarding distributions to beneficiaries vary greatly based on certain conditions.

Please contact our Service Center to discuss specific circumstances and available options. For more information, please review the MERS 457 Supplemental Retirement Program Participant Handbook.

MERS YouTube Videos MERS RSS

Disclaimer
The information contained in this Web site is being made available as a public service. The information is not intended to constitute legal or investment advice, or to replace official versions of that information. Benefit Estimates or Service Credit Purchase estimates requested through this Web site are not official descriptions of any benefits, and do not represent a promise by MERS to provide any benefit(s) to any person(s). No one can detrimentally rely upon the information provided in, or requested through this Web site. MERS reserves the right to correct any errors, and presents this information without warranties, express or implied, regarding the information?s accuracy, timeliness or completeness. If you believe the information is inaccurate, out-of-date, or incomplete, or if you have problems accessing or reading the information, please call MERS at 800.767.MERS (6377).