Employers can amend their contracts to provide the 1959 Survivor Benefit to employees who aren't covered by Social Security. This benefit provides a monthly allowance to eligible survivors of covered members who died before retirement. Covered members pay a monthly fee that is deducted from their salary.

The 1959 Survivor Benefit allowance is payable in addition to pre-retirement death benefits, except for the Special Death Benefit. If the 1959 Survivor Benefit is greater than the Special Death Benefit, then the difference is paid as the 1959 Survivor Benefit. Search for your member benefit publication for information on the Special Death Benefit and other pre-retirement death benefits.

Upon a member's pre-retirement death, the respective employer and survivors are encouraged to contact us immediately for assistance.

Benefit Levels

There are six different benefit levels. The applicable level depends on the contract the employer has with CalPERS:

  • Local public agency members may be covered by any of the first four levels or by the indexed level.
  • School and state members are covered at Level 5.

Refer to the following chart to determine the amounts payable under each level depending on the number of eligible survivors.

Monthly Benefit Levels
Benefit Level One Survivor Two Survivors Three or More Survivors
Level 1* $180 $360 $430
Level 2* $225 $450 $538
Level 3* $350 $700 $840
Level 4 $950 $1,900 $2,280
Level 5 $750 $1,500 $1,800
Indexed** $500 $1,000 $1,500

* These levels are closed to new agency contract amendments.
** These benefit amounts increase 2 percent each January, beginning January 2001.

For more information regarding the contract amendment process, contact us.