Death of a Member

Steps

 

  • Report Death of Member
  • Receive and Review Packet
  • Complete Packet and Return to SURS
  • Claim Finalized

 

Report Death of Member

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: 1901 Fox Drive, Champaign, IL 61820

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 18 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 the list of participating employers.

Receive and Review Packet

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 Retirement Savings Plan (RSP), the packet of information will include a cover letter, withdrawal form, and a copy of the latest SURS RSP Quarterly Unified Statement of account value.
Complete Packet and Return to SURS

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).

Death and Survivor Benefit Assistance – This video is for Traditional and Portable plan members

Claim Finalized
  • 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 Retirement Savings Plan, you must contact the provider(s) if you wish to update your beneficiaries.

Insurance Information

State of Illinois Insurance:  To be eligible for the State of Illinois Group Insurance Plan as a survivor, the original member must have at least five years of service credit with a state university or an agency of the State of Illinois.

Click here to view a list of SURS-covered employers.

  1. After the death of the member is reported to SURS, the Insurance Team determines if there is an eligible survivor who may qualify for state health, dental, vision, and life insurance.

    Traditional & Portable Plans: Within 1-2 days, a letter, enrollment form, and participation election form are mailed to the qualified survivor/contingent annuitant.  If the member was an immediate annuitant – retired within one year of terminating state employment – optional life insurance forms are also sent.

    Retirement Savings Plan: Insurance paperwork will be sent to the qualified survivor once it has been determined that the survivor has chosen an annuity or was provided an annuity by the member.

  2. The original member’s and any dependent’s health, dental, vision, and life insurance are terminated with Central Management Services (CMS) within 1-2 days.  Within the following 3-5 days,  a verification form showing the termination of insurance along with COBRA papers for any dependents that were covered under the original member will be sent out.

  3. The survivor must submit the participation election form and any applicable enrollment forms, to SURS, within 60 days.*

    -If the survivor was a dependent on the original member’s insurance, the survivor’s insurance will be effective the day after the date of death of the original member (no break in coverage).  All insurance will now be under the survivor’s name and Social Security number.  The survivor is also eligible to purchase optional life insurance if the member was an immediate annuitant. The survivor will now be considered a member of SURS.

    -If the survivor was not a dependent on the original member’s insurance, the survivor’s insurance will be effective the first of the month in which their survivor benefit begins.  All insurance will now be under the survivor’s name and Social Security number.  The survivor will now be considered a member of SURS.

    Note:  If the member was in the Retirement Savings Plan, insurance cannot begin until the providers have notified SURS that the annuity has been paid.

  4. If life insurance is payable, SURS notifies MetLife of the death within 1-2 days of the report of death.  Within approximately five days, MetLife will send out life insurance applications to the beneficiaries listed on the Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation Form. MetLife will require a certified copy of the death certificate with the application for life insurance.

*Note:  If the survivor receives a retirement benefit and is eligible for state insurance as a retiree, the insurance will transfer to their retirement benefit.

*If the forms are not received within 60 days, the survivor will not be eligible to participate in the State Insurance Program until the next Benefits Choice Enrollment Period or upon experiencing a qualifying change in family status.

College Insurance Program (CIP):   To be eligible for CIP, the member must have been a full-time employee of any SURS-participating community college and eligible for benefits.

  1. After the death of the member is reported to SURS, the Insurance Team determines if there is an eligible survivor who may qualify for CIP health, dental, and vision insurance.

    Traditional & Portable Plans:   Within 1-2 days, a letter and a CIP Benefit Recipient Group Insurance form are mailed to the qualified survivor/contingent annuitant.

    Retirement Savings Plan:   Insurance paperwork will be sent to the qualified survivor once it has been determined that the survivor has chosen an annuity or was provided an annuity by the member.

  2. The original member’s and any dependent’s health, dental, and vision insurance are terminated with Central Management Services (CMS) within 1-2 days.  Within 30 days, SURS sends COBRA papers for any dependents that were covered under the original member.

  3. The survivor must submit the CIP Benefit Recipient Group Insurance Form to SURS within 60 days.*

    -If the survivor was a dependent on the original member’s insurance, the survivor’s insurance will be effective the day after the date of death of the original member (no break in coverage).  All insurance will now be under the survivor’s name and Social Security number. The survivor will now be considered a member of SURS.

    -If the survivor was not a dependent on the original member’s insurance, the survivor’s insurance will be effective the first of the month in which their survivor benefit begins. All insurance will now be under the survivor’s name and Social Security number. The survivor will now be considered a member of SURS.

Note: If the member was in the Retirement Savings Plan, insurance cannot begin until the providers have notified SURS that the annuity has been paid.

*If the forms are not received within 60 days, the survivor will not be eligible to participate in the College Insurance Program until the next Benefits Choice Enrollment Period or upon experiencing a qualifying change in family status.

Benefits Payable and Death Benefits
  • Qualified Survivors (Traditional Plan):
    1. Spouse or civil union partner, if he or she was married to the member for at least one year prior to the member’s death and is age 50 or older OR spouse or civil union partner under age 50 who is caring for another qualifying survivor (see #2 and #3).
    2. Unmarried child(ren) under age 18, or up to age 22 if a full-time student.
    3. Unmarried disabled child(ren) age 18 or older if disabled prior to age 18
    4. Financially dependent parent(s) age 55 or older
  • Qualified Survivor/Contingent Annuitant (Portable Plan and Retirement Savings Plan)
    • Before Retirement
      • Portable: Spouse or civil union partner if married to the member for at least one year prior to the member’s death
      • Retirement Savings Plan: Spouse or civil union partner if married to the member at the time of the member’s death
    • After Retirement: Contingent Annuitant (if elected)

Death Benefits

 

Traditional

Portable

Retirement Savings Plan

                                             
                          

 

Pre-Retirement Death Benefit

With a Qualifying Survivor

7/8ths of Account Balance

Account Balance plus Employer Match minus the actuarial value of the Survivor Annuity

Employee contributions and investment returns plus employer match if at least 1.50 years of service

Without a Qualifying Survivor

 

Active: Account Balance plus an employer amount up to $5000

Inactive: Account Balance

Account Balance plus Employer Match if at least 1.50 years of service

                    

 

Post-Retirement Death Benefit
                

With a Qualifying Survivor or Contingent Annuitant

None

Based on terms of annuity contract

Without a Qualifying Survivor or Contingent Annuitant

Greater of $1,000 or remainder of Account Balance

Survivor/Contingent Annuitant Benefits

 

Traditional

Portable

Retirement Savings Plan

                                            

Who Qualifies?

Qualified Survivor

Pre-Retirement: Eligible Spouse

Post Retirement: Contingent Annuitant (if elected)

                          

Eligibility

 

Active:  1.50 years

Inactive: 10 years

1.50 years

Immediate

Benefit Amount

Tier I: At least 50%*

Tier II: 66.667%*

*of member’s retirement annuity at death

Pre-Retirement: 50% Joint and Survivor Annuity
Post Retirement: 50%, 75% or 100% Joint and Survivor Annuity based on reduced Retirement Annuity, if elected.

50% or 100% Joint and Survivor Annuity, if elected.

                

Automatic Annual Increase (AAI)

Tier I: 3% (Compounded)

Tier II: Traditional Plan increase is calculated using the lesser of 3% or 1/2 of the change in the Consumer Price Index. The increase is not compounded. For Portable Plan, 3% compounded annually.

Not Applicable