Learn what steps to take in the event you become terminally ill or experience the death of a CalPERS member, family member, or beneficiary.

Learn how a death can impact coverage or benefits for members, beneficiaries, and survivors. Be sure to notify CalPERS of the death of a member, retiree, survivor, or anyone receiving a CalPERS benefit.

Retirement

Death of a Member

Notify CalPERS of the death and begin the Application Process for death benefits.

We'll send you the necessary paperwork to determine who will be the beneficiary and what benefits will be paid.

Death of a Family Member or Beneficiary

The death of a family member or designated beneficiary revokes a designation form you may have on file with CalPERS.

Review your beneficiary designation. If you need to make changes, log in to your my|CalPERS account to make changes online, or complete the appropriate designation form depending on if you're still working or retired:

Review your current tax withholding and exemptions. Complete our Tax Withholding Election (PDF) form to make changes if you're retired.

You should also consider establishing a CalPERS Special Power of Attorney, or reviewing your current one. Read CalPERS Special Power of Attorney (PUB 30) (PDF) publication for more information.

Health Benefits Coverage

Death of a Member

If the member was still working, contact the employer. They will need a copy of the death certificate. If the member was retired, contact us. We will need a copy of the death certificate.

Death of a Family Member

If you're still working, contact your personnel office to remove the deceased family member from your health plan. They will need a copy of the death certificate. If you're retired, contact us to remove the family member from your health plan. We'll need a copy of the death certificate.

Death of a Beneficiary

The death of your beneficiary does not impact your health coverage or benefits.

Long-Term Care

Contact CalPERS Long-Term Care at (800) 982-1775 to terminate coverage of a member or family member. The death of your beneficiary doesn't impact your long-term care coverage.

Deferred Compensation Plans

Death of a Member

Contact the member's employer or savings plan directly to report the death if they participated in the following plans:

Death of a Family Member or Beneficiary

Contact your savings plan to review and change your beneficiary information if needed.

If you're facing a terminal illness, we can assist you in making sure your coverage or benefits are in place to have your wishes carried out.

Retirement

Active Members

  • Assist your family members by letting them know the steps they'll need to take to receive benefits. Review the latest information to ensure Death Benefits are paid to the proper beneficiaries.
  • Contact us about the possibility of filing for retirement as soon as possible. A CalPERS emergency retirement counselor will advise you of actions you should take or expedite retirement processing if you are terminally ill.
  • Contact your employer, union, and the Social Security Administration to determine if there are any other benefits payable.
  • Review your beneficiary designation. If you need to make changes, complete the Beneficiary Designation (PDF).
  • You should set up a CalPERS Special Power of Attorney to designate a representative who can conduct your CalPERS business should you become incapacitated.

Retirees

Be sure to review your beneficiary designation to ensure it's accurate and up to date. If you need to make changes, read Changing Your Beneficiary or Monthly Benefit After Retirement (PUB 98) (PDF).

Registered Domestic Partners

You can protect your registered domestic partner's right to a monthly death benefit by listing your registered domestic partner's name in the Survivor Continuance section of the Disability Retirement Election Application (PDF). The application must be received by CalPERS prior to your death and can be faxed to (916) 795-3988, Attention: Emergency Retirement Counselor. In this situation, we recommend that you contact us at 888 CalPERS (or 888-225-7377) for assistance.

Health Benefits Coverage

Review your health plan's evidence of coverage so that you are familiar with hospice coverage, and share this information with your family members.

  • Consider your wishes for end-of-life care and discuss them with your family and doctor. If you need help identifying your wishes, visit the Center for Healthcare Decisions for helpful suggestions.
  • Contact us to find out how your emergency retirement can affect continuation of health coverage for your eligible surviving family members.
  • If you continue working or receive approval for disability retirement, there will be no change in health benefits coverage for your surviving spouse or eligible dependent. If you transition from active employment to retirement, you can add, change, or delete your dependents' coverage.
  • If you're still working, contact your personnel office to determine the continuing coverage of your surviving family members after your death. They can also help explain how coverage may be continued through COBRA.
  • Make sure you have an Advance Health Care Directive (also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) in place and that your family and doctor have copies. Find the form at the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

Long-Term Care

If you have CalPERS Long-Term Care coverage, contact CalPERS Long-Term Care at (800) 982-1775. A program representative will explain and coordinate any benefits that may be available to you.

Deferred Compensation Plans

Contact your savings plan directly to report your marriage and review or change your beneficiary information for the following plans: