Retirement Benefits

How Can I Best Set Up My Loved Ones for the Future?

Careful planning before your retirement plays a vital role in ensuring you make informed retirement decisions for you and your loved ones. Although death is a difficult topic to discuss, we want to provide you some tips and resources to help you feel more confident with your retirement choices and set up your loved ones for the future.

Get a Retirement Estimate

Running a retirement estimate in myCalPERS is one of the best decisions you can make during the retirement planning process. An estimate will allow you to understand not only what kind of payment you’ll receive in retirement, but also what your designated beneficiary/survivor will receive upon your death.

You can generate a variety of scenarios and save them to your account for future reference. Plus, if you plan on taking any retirement classes, having a retirement estimate is a prerequisite. More on classes below.

Take CalPERS Retirement Classes

Retirement should be treated as one of your most important financial decisions. Once you reach the 30-day mark after retiring, you’re limited on the type of changes you can make to your selections. And, with the proper education, you’ll be able to make the best choices for you and your loved ones. The earlier you can develop an understanding of your CalPERS benefits, the more prepared you’ll be.

Our virtual, interactive, instructor-led, and self-paced online classes are based on your career stages, so you can select the class that best suits your needs. To enroll, log in to myCalPERS and select the Education tab to view dates and register. You can get more information on our Member Education webpage.

Know the Difference Between Beneficiaries and Survivors

One of the most important items to get familiar with is the difference between a beneficiary and a survivor. A beneficiary is any person you choose to receive either a lump-sum payment or lifetime benefit upon your death that is not set by law.

A survivor is defined by law as:

  • A spouse or registered domestic partner who was married or registered to you for at least one year before your service retirement date and continuously until your death.
  • Your natural or adopted unmarried children under age 18. The benefit would be paid until they marry or turn 18.
  • Your unmarried child who was disabled prior to age 18, and whose disability continues without interruption until the disability ends or until marriage.
  • If no spouse, domestic partner, or children exist, financially dependent parents.

It’s important to note that you cannot choose a survivor. You can read more on beneficiaries and survivors on page 9 of Your CalPERS Benefits: Planning Your Service Retirement (PUB 1) (PDF).

Tell Us if You Have a Qualifying Life Event in Retirement

One of the most difficult conversations our Survivor Benefits team has to have with a deceased member’s loved one is why they aren’t eligible for benefits. This is typically due to a member’s information not being current.

In retirement, if you have a qualifying life event such as a marriage or divorce, submitting it to us in a timely fashion will ensure the correct individuals are covered. Read up more on this topic in our publication, Changing Your Beneficiary or Monthly Benefit After Retirement (PUB 98) (PDF).

We’re Here for You

If you still find yourself unsure about which selections to make after taking a retirement education class or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can visit us at a Regional Office location by appointment, you can call us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377), or we now have the option of making a video appointment.