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Choosing Beneficiaries

Choosing or Changing Beneficiaries
As a new member of PSERS, you will receive a Welcome Packet.  Your Welcome Packet will contain, among other important documents, a Nomination of Beneficiaries (PSRS-187) form (PDF).  A beneficiary is a person or persons you wish to receive your retirement benefits if you die.  All members should name a beneficiary by submitting a Nomination of Beneficiaries (PDF) form to PSERS.   


You should keep your beneficiary information up to date to ensure that benefits are paid according to your wishes.  If you do not name a beneficiary, or if your named beneficiary predeceases you, your benefit is paid to your estate.  PSERS benefits paid to your beneficiary are exempt from state and local taxes if the beneficiary resides in Pennsylvania.  Benefits paid to your estate are taxable for state and local purposes upon being distributed from the estate.  Both direct payments to your beneficiary and payments to your estate are subject to federal taxes.


You should review and submit to PSERS a new Nomination of Beneficiaries (PDF) form if:  



  • You or your beneficiary divorces or marries.
  • One of your beneficiaries dies.
  • One of your beneficiaries has a name or address change.
  • You have a child or adopt a child.
  • A minor beneficiary reaches age 18.  








The most recently received and accepted form, including the Nomination of Beneficiaries (PDF) section of an Application for Retirement (PSRS-8) form (PDF), will supersede all previous forms.  


Updating Beneficiary/Survivor Information (Retired Members) 


Different rules apply to retired members when updating beneficiary information.  If you chose Maximum Single Life Annuity or Option 1 retirement option, you may change your beneficiary information by submitting a new Nomination of Beneficiaries form.



If you chose Options 2, 3, or Customized (Special) Option 4, you may only name a new survivor annuitant if your marital status changes or your survivor annuitant predeceases you.  If you decide to change survivor annuitants or retirement options, PSERS will recalculate your monthly benefit using your new survivor annuitants age at the time of the change.  During this process, it is possible that your monthly benefit will be reduced.  You should contact your local regional office to inquire about making this change.  Click here for regional office information.



Unlike some other retirement plans you may be used to, PSERS will not automatically pay any death benefits to which you may be entitled to your current spouse. Federal pension statutes and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requirements don't apply to governmental plans like PSERS.


First, PSERS will pay whomever you have indicated on your most recent Nomination of Beneficiaries form. If you don't have a form on file, we will pay your estate and the proceeds will be settled and distributed that way.


In the event of a divorce, it is particularly important to update your beneficiary. Whether your pre-divorce designation of your former spouse remains effective will depend on the date you named your former spouse and the state you live in at the time of your death.