If your spouse dies
This document is presented to you as a member of the Northern Arizona University Retirees Association (NAURA), as a guide in reporting the death of your spouse. It is not meant to be a complete or absolute list of all tasks which may be necessary, but for most retirees it will take care of those activities dealing with your deceased spouse’s retirement plan, Social Security benefits, and health/dental insurance.
Following the death of a spouse and completion of end-of-life arrangements, one might ask, “What do I do now?” The following checklist offers some general guidance:
- Report the death to the deceased’s retirement plan and the Social Security Office to avoid overpayment of retired benefits. (See PARTS I and II included in this document.
- Consult a lawyer, financial advisor, and tax advisor.
- Obtain 10 or more copies of the death certificate, through the mortuary.
- Locate all important legal and financial papers, including those in a safety deposit box.
- Contact life insurance agencies.
- Notify the appropriate agency to make changes in your health and dental insurance. See PART IV in this document.)
- If the deceased was a veteran, contact the nearest Veteran’s Administration office.
- Gather the deceased’s current bills and notify creditors of the death.
- Keep a record of all telephone calls, correspondence and copy all documents submitted.
Retirement plan benefits
When death occurs retirement plans prefer that the surviving spouse contact their office as soon as possible to report the death. In this manner, overpayment of benefits to your deceased spouse will be avoided, and the survivor’s death benefit will be reviewed. Call the number which corresponds to your deceased spouse’s retirement plan or call the representative, if known. Telephone numbers for the various retirement plan offices are given below.
My Spouse’s retirement plan is: _______________________________________________
Necessary information when calling:
Decedent’s Name: _______________________________________
Decedent’s SS#: ________________________________________
Date of Birth: ___________________________________________
Survivor’s Name: ________________________________________
Survivor’s SS#: _________________________________________
What is the death benefit option? ______________________________________________
Retirement plan offices
State retirement plans
Public Safety Personnel Retirement System
1020 East Missouri Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85067
Arizona Department of Administration
Kristy Bolin, Member Services Team Leader
100 N. 15th Ave. #103
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Optional retirement plans
You may call the Plan’s representative or:
One Utah Center
201 S. Main Street, Suite 200
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
ING Investment Services, Inc.
7720 N. 16th Street, Suite 150
Phoenix, AZ 85020
1700 Broadway, Suite 770
Denver, CO 80290
The Vanguard Group
PO Box 2900
Valley Forge, PA 19482-2900
If your spouse was a recipient of Social Security benefits at the time of death, no benefit is payable subsequent to or during the month when death occurs. For example, if death occurs in July, the benefit received in August, which is payment for July, must be returned to Social Security.
If monthly payments were paid via direct deposit, notify the bank or other financial institutions of the death. Request that any funds received for the month of death and later be returned to Social Security as soon as possible.
If benefits were paid by check, do not cash any checks received for the month in which the death occurred or thereafter. Return the checks as soon as possible.
If you were living with your spouse at the time of death, you should receive a one-time payment of $255. Family members may be eligible for Social Security Benefits after a retired worker dies. Contact Social Security in regard to this.
Arizona state retirement system benefits
If your spouse dies and was a member of the ASRS (whether the account was under the old “System” or the new “Plan”), it is important that you are “Designated Beneficiary of the Estate” in advance of the death. The beneficiary of the estate is entitled to the spouse’s regular pension payment up to and including the month of death only. Any subsequent payments received must be returned to ASRS.
As beneficiary of the state, your benefits after spousal death with regard to ASRS depend upon which of the seven benefit options your spouse chose upon retirement. Be sure that you are aware of which option was chosen.
Documents to provide ASRS
The following documents must be provided to ASRS by mail:
- Photocopy of the death certificate (a certified copy is required if death does not occur in Arizona). These can be ordered from the mortuary. Because you will probably need more of these for other agencies, obtaining 10 or more is a good idea.
- Photocopy of the beneficiary’s social security card (copies of W-2 forms, federal income tax returns, or pension stubs are acceptable alternatives). A driver’s license is not acceptable.
- A completed and notarized “application for survivor’s benefits” form, provided by ASRS.
- A completed expedite form for “lump sum” payment, if requested, provided by ASRS.
- Reimbursement of any pension overpayment received.
Health and dental insurance
There are several options for your health/dental insurance coverage, depending on your situation at the time of your spouse’s death. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact the NAU Human Resources Office 928-523-2223.
If you have your own individual coverage, there is probably no action needed.
If you are the retiree covering your deceased souse OR you are covered under your deceased spouse’s plan, you will have to make a change.
ADOA benefit options plan participants
(NAU Blue Cross Blue Shield, or other health plans administered by ADOA, and Employees Dental Service Plans)
If you are the retiree covering your deceased spouse, you may change your coverage from family to single as of the date of your spouse’s death.
If you are covered by any of these plans as your spouse’s dependent, you may continue your coverage as an individual.
If you are not covered by any of these plans as your spouse’s dependent at his/her date of death, you may not join the plan now.
To arrange for your continued individual coverage or to change your coverage from family to single, please contact the Arizona Department of Administration, Kristy Bolin at 602-364-2885.
ASRS health and dental plans
If your deceased spouse was an ASRS retiree, you may elect to enroll in the ASRS medical and/or dental insurance plans, if you are the dependent beneficiary of your spouse’s pension benefit. If you are the insured surviving dependent, in other words, you are already enrolled under your deceased spouse’s ASRS medical and/or dental coverage at the time of death, you may continue to be covered for health insurance. In both instances, you must make application to enroll in or continue coverage within 6 months of your spouse’s death.
ASRS health insurance supplement
If your spouse retired on or after January 1, 2004, you may be eligible to receive a reduced premium benefit from the ASRS to help cover the cost of your health insurance if you continue to participate in the NAU blue Cross Blue Shield plan or an ASRS plan. The ASRS needs to be contacted to determine your eligibility. You are not eligible to receive a health insurance supplemental benefit if your spouse retired before January 1, 2004.
A final word of caution
If you will be enrolling in health insurance as a survivor after your spouse’s death, it is important to know the amount of the survivor premium, and how it is going to be paid. It may be possible to have it deducted from your retirement or death benefit or you may be required to pay the monthly premium directly. If you enroll in health insurance as a survivor and do not arrange to have the monthly premium paid, there is the possibility of cancellation of the insurance, or a large bill for back payment. It is critical that this issue be reviewed carefully with ASRS and ADOA. The NAU Human Resources Department may be able to assist as well. Monthly statements or bills should continue to be monitored for accuracy.
Northern Arizona University Retirees Association – November, 2016