Death of a Member

Death of a Member

SURS offers helpful instructions on how to file for survivor and death benefits.

  • Report Death of Member

  • Receive and Review Packet

  • Complete Packet and Return to SURS

  • Claim Finalized

The benefits payable upon the death of a SURS member vary depending upon many factors including whether or not the member has an eligible survivor or contingent annuitant, the member’s plan election, and whether the member passed away before or after retirement. In the event there is a qualified survivor/contingent annuitant, monthly survivor benefits and a death benefit may be payable. In the event there are no qualified survivors at the time of the member’s death, a death benefit will be payable to the designated beneficiary(ies).

Someone must notify SURS as soon as possible when a member passes away. SURS prefers to receive a report of death by phone in order to gather all necessary information; however, SURS will also accept reports of death by mail or fax.

Dial Toll Free: 800-275-7877
Dial Direct: 217-378-8800
Fax: 217-378-9800
Mail: P.O. Box 2710, Champaign, IL 61825-2710

The following information is needed when a death is reported:

  • Date of death
  • Spouse/contingent annuitant/civil union partner’s:
    1. Name
    2. Address
    3. Phone number
    4. Birth date
    5. Social Security number.

If the member was in the Traditional Plan, SURS will also need to know this information for:

  1. Dependent unmarried child(ren) under age 18, or up to age 22 if a full-time student
  2. Dependent disabled child(ren) age 19 or older if disabled prior to age 18
  3. Dependent parent(s) age 55 or older

Note: If none of the above apply, SURS will require the name and pertinent information of the beneficiary(ies) on file or the executor of the estate.

If the member was actively employed with a SURS-covered employer, the employer must also be notified. Click here to view employer contact information.

SURS will send out a packet of information approximately 10-15 days (if annuitant at death), 15-20 days (if active or inactive at death) after the death has been reported. Included in the information will be a request for one certified copy of the member’s death certificate.

  • If the member was in the Traditional or Portable plan, this packet of information will include a letter that will explain the benefits that are payable and the forms necessary to apply for benefits.
  • If the member was in the Self-Managed Plan (SMP), the packet of information will include a cover letter, withdrawal form, and a copy of the latest SURS SMP Quarterly Unified Statement of account value.

If assistance is needed with the application materials, contact a SURS Benefits Counselor toll free at 800-275-7877 or dial direct at 217-378-8800. SURS is unable to provide information pertaining to survivor or death benefits to anyone but the survivor(s) or beneficiary(ies).

  • Average Processing Time: The average processing time is currently 60-90 days if annuitant/ 90-120 days if active or inactive from the date we are notified of the member's death.
  • Delays in Finalizing Claims:  There are several reasons why a claim may not be finalized within the average processing time.  The following reasons are the most common:
    • Survivor(s)/contingent annuitant birth verification and/or Marriage/Civil Union Certificate not on file:  SURS cannot pay a survivor or contingent annuitant benefit without these documents. For proof of birth date, SURS will accept a photocopy of one of the following documents:
      1. Birth Certificate
      2. Passport
      3. Baptismal Certificate
      4. Grade or High School Records
      5. Military Discharge Papers
      6. Social Security Verification Letter
    • Employer's report of status and last payroll not received:  SURS will continue to contact the employer until this information is received.
    • Return of overpayments:  SURS pays retirement annuities at the beginning of every month.  If a member passes away in the middle of the month, the member is still entitled to the full month's annuity.  In the event that an overpayment occurs, SURS is required to collect the overpayment.  If SURS is unsuccessful in recovering the overpayment, the amount will be recovered from the benefits payable.
    • Reciprocal Certifications:  If the member retired from SURS and another retirement system in Illinois under the provisions of the Reciprocal Act, an exchange of information may be needed to calculate the survivor benefits.  These claims generally take longer to finalize because SURS must receive a reciprocal certification from the other system before calculating the benefit.
  • Beneficiaries:  In the event that there are no qualified survivors at the time of the member's death, a death benefit will be payable to the designated beneficiaries.

Note to members: We encourage you to keep your SURS Beneficiary Designation Form current. This form is used to designate who you would like to receive your SURS death benefit and will help SURS locate your survivors and/or beneficiaries. You may contact SURS for a copy of this form or access it directly on the SURS Member website by visiting www.surs.org and clicking on Member Login. If you are an annuitant under the Self-Managed Plan, you must contact the provider(s) if you wish to update your beneficiaries.