Retirement Benefits

Getting Married After Retirement?

You got married or registered a domestic partner during your retirement years—congratulations! Have you remembered the second step so your loved one will have a monthly allowance and applicable health coverage in case anything happens to you? You must elect a “Modification of Life Option Beneficiary.”

This is a time-sensitive step: If you elect to modify your original retirement option to name your new spouse or domestic partner for an ongoing monthly benefit, within the first year of your marriage it will take effect right away. If you wait until after your first anniversary, the law requires us to defer your modification for a mandatory 12-month waiting period. But if you die during that 12-month period, your spouse or domestic partner will not receive a monthly death benefit. And if you have health insurance coverage during retirement, it will stop upon your death. That’s why it’s so important to complete the change as soon as possible after you marry or register your domestic partnership.

A Modification of Life Option Beneficiary will reduce the amount of your retirement allowance, but it will financially protect your new spouse.

Consult our publication Changing Your Beneficiary or Monthly Benefit After Retirement (PUB 98) (PDF) for information to determine whether you qualify. If you do qualify, you must obtain an estimate of your new retirement allowance by logging in to your myCalPERS account and following the prompts from the Retirement tab to Change Retirement Benefit. You can elect to make the change online, or you can print and mail us your signed election document.

If you are unable to create an estimate through your myCalPERS account, call us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) for a Modification of Option and/or Life Option Beneficiary Estimate Request form. We’ll send you an election form that estimates your different lifetime options. You and your spouse can review the information and decide what’s best.