Retirement Benefits

How to Report the Death of a CalPERS Member

While nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, you should know the steps to start the process of distributing any available CalPERS benefits. Carefully review the information below to report the death of a CalPERS member, retiree, survivor, or anyone receiving a CalPERS benefit.

Notify CalPERS by telephone or letter of the member’s death

888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377)
TTY: (916) 795-3240

CalPERS Disability & Survivor Benefits Division
P.O. Box 1652
Sacramento, CA 95812-1652

Provide information about the member

Whether you call or write to us to report the death, please provide us the following details.

  • Member’s name and either the Social Security number or CalPERS ID number.
  • Date of the member’s death.
  • Name, address, telephone number, date of birth, date of marriage, and Social Security number of the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of closest next of kin or the person designated to settle the estate, if there is no spouse or domestic partner.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the person reporting the member’s death.

Gather the required documents

Set aside the following documents that may be needed to establish who is entitled to any death benefits. Copies of these documents are acceptable. You do not need to send us the originals.

  • Copy of the death certificate (must list the cause of death).
  • Copy of probate or letters of testamentary documents if the estate is the beneficiary.
  • Other documents such as a marriage certificate or domestic partnership registration, the birth certificate of the beneficiary, or any dissolution of marriage final judgment papers. Visit our website for details about specific documents needed for death benefits.

Complete and mail the application package

Once we are notified of the death, we’ll mail you a death benefit application package. The application package includes forms to complete and a list of the required documents you need to send us.

Be sure to fully complete the survivor questionnaire and Tax Withholding Election form, which we’ll send as part of the application package.

The information provided on the survivor questionnaire is used to identify persons who might be beneficiaries by law, or to determine if any event (such as remarriage or the death of a spouse) has occurred to invalidate the beneficiary designation on file. This document also serves as the formal application to claim and receive payment of CalPERS death benefits.

The Tax Withholding Election form should be completed, signed, and returned so federal and state income tax may be withheld according to the wishes of the beneficiary.

Be sure to mail all forms and required documents to the address on the application package. We’ll contact you if additional information is needed.

Health and dental insurance enrollment

If a beneficiary or survivor is entitled to continued coverage under a health or dental insurance plan administered or approved by CalPERS, enrollment will be automatically continued when the monthly death benefit payment begins. The health carrier will send confirmation of enrollment.

If the health and dental coverage are not through a CalPERS-administered plan, the surviving family members should contact the carrier directly to determine continued eligibility for coverage.

Return of retirement checks or payments

Unless instructed otherwise, all payments issued after a member’s death should be promptly returned to CalPERS.

If payments have been sent to a financial institution by direct deposit into the member’s account, we’ll send a request to the financial institution for return of the funds. If necessary, a request for reimbursement of payments issued after the date of death will be sent to the beneficiaries or the person who notified us of the death.

Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to keep payments issued after the member’s death. If CalPERS will be paying a continuing allowance to a surviving spouse, the spouse may keep the payment issued after the participant’s death and arrange to repay any portion not payable. We’ll advise the person filing the death report if it will be necessary to return any payments already received.

We’re here for you

We want to make sure you’re prepared with information about the death application process. Please take a few moments to review the Death Benefits section of our website, where you’ll find details about CalPERS death benefits, beneficiary designation, and more.

If you ever have any questions, send us a message through myCalPERS or call us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377).