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Survivor Benefits

As a PERA member, you have access to PERA’s survivor benefit program, which provides income to your survivors when you die. Your qualified survivors could receive either an ongoing monthly benefit or a one-time lump sum payment.

Survivor benefits are available to qualifying members of the PERA Defined Benefit (DB) Plan at no additional cost.

Do I qualify for survivor benefits?

PERA benefit structure

You must meet the following requirements to qualify for survivor benefits:

  • Be eligible to retire, OR
  • Be an active member with at least one year of service credit, OR
  • Had a job-related death, OR
  • Be an inactive member with at least five years of service and have a surviving spouse.

Denver Public Schools (DPS) benefit structure

You must meet the following requirements to qualify for survivor benefits:

  • Be an active member with more than five years of continuous service, OR
  • Have qualified for disability retirement after July 1, 1962, and have yet to meet the age requirement for recalculation of your disability retirement benefits.

If you don’t meet these qualifications under either benefit structure, a one-time lump-sum payment of your account will be made to your named beneficiary or, if you do not have a named beneficiary, to your estate. Log on to your member dashboard to update your beneficiary information.

Which of my survivors will receive a benefit?

Active members

Member eligible for retirement

If you are an active PERA member and you are eligible for retirement, your qualified survivors are listed below in order of eligibility:

  1. Cobeneficiary (person designated by you, after you are eligible for retirement, to receive an Option 3 monthly benefit)
  2. Spouse (monthly benefit)
  3. Children (monthly benefit)
  4. Disabled adult children (monthly benefit)
  5. Dependent parents (monthly benefit)
  6. Named beneficiary(ies) (lump sum)
  7. Your estate (lump sum)
Member not eligible for retirement

If you are an active PERA member with at least one year of earned service and you are not eligible for retirement when you die, your qualified survivors are listed below in order of eligibility. If your death is job-related, this service credit minimum is waived.

  1. Children (monthly benefit)
  2. Spouse (monthly benefit)
  3. Disabled adult children (monthly benefit)
  4. Dependent parents (monthly benefit)
  5. Named beneficiary(ies) (lump sum)
  6. Your estate (lump sum)

Inactive members

If you are an inactive member with at least five years of service credit, in the event of your death:

  • Your surviving spouse is eligible to receive an Option 3 monthly benefit beginning on the date you would have been eligible to receive a reduced service retirement benefit.
  • If you have no surviving spouse, your named beneficiary(ies) will receive a lump-sum payment.
  • If you have no surviving spouse or named beneficiary, your estate will receive a lump-sum payment.

DPS benefit structure

Your qualified survivors are listed below in order of eligibility:

  1. Children (monthly benefit)
  2. Disabled children (monthly benefit)
  3. Spouse with custody of children (monthly benefit)
  4. Spouse without custody of children (monthly benefit)
  5. Dependent parents (monthly benefit)
  6. Named beneficiary(ies) (monthly benefit)

See the Survivor Benefits booklet for more details.

Survivor Benefits Booklet