Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association

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1 Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association

2 Death and Continuing Benefits LACERA Will Assist You through the Death Benefit Process A time of loss is a difficult and emotional period. We understand and we re here to help you with any LACERA-related matters. We offer this brochure to guide you through the benefit process and help expedite your receipt of any LACERA death and/or continuing benefits to which you may be entitled. As the survivor or beneficiary of a LACERA member, you are part of the LACERA family. As such, we are committed to providing you with the benefits designated by your loved one s LACERA retirement plan. The relationship LACERA builds with each member is personal and enduring. Now that the member is gone, the relationship endures with you, through continuing benefits. The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) is governed by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL) and the California Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013; LACERA retirement benefits are administered in accordance with these laws. If there is any conflict between statements made herein and provisions of the applicable retirement law, the law will prevail. For additional information, call LACERA at or or visit us at 300 N. Lake Avenue, Suite 100, Pasadena, CA Visit our website: lacera.com

3 STEP 1: NOTIFY LACERA OF THE MEMBER S DEATH Call LACERA at as soon as possible to report the 1member s death. You will be required to submit the original death certificate. LACERA will image the document and return it to you. If the original is not available, LACERA will accept a certified copy of the original, stamped by the county clerk or (depending on the jurisdiction) equivalent official. LACERA cannot accept a photocopy of the death certificate. If you have the decedent s LACERA Member Information Card, provide the information listed on the card when you notify LACERA of the death. 2 3 Initiating the Benefit Process STEP 2: LACERA RESEARCHES THE CASE Upon notification of the member s death, LACERA will research the member s case to determine any applicable benefits and beneficiaries. STEP 3: SUBMIT CLAIM FORMS AND OTHER REQUIRED DOCUMENTS Within approximately ten working days after receiving notification of the death, LACERA will send you claim forms and requests for other documents. Required documents vary according to the specifics of the case. Commonly required documents include original certified marriage certificate or Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, and original certified birth certificate(s). Your Social Security Number (or Tax Identification Number) is required before any benefits can be paid. To pay benefits to a Trust, we must have the EIN issued to the Trust by the Internal Revenue Service. STEP 4: RECEIVING YOUR BENEFIT PAYMENT* Death benefit payments to eligible survivors generally begin one 4payroll cycle after LACERA has been notified of the member s death.** Death benefit payments to named beneficiaries generally begin 30 days from the date all required documents have been received by LACERA. *Benefit processing time may vary according to how soon LACERA receives all required documents. **See page 20 for definitions of eligible survivors. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 3

4 Death and Continuing Benefits Table of Contents Section I: Death of a LACERA Retiree Continuing Benefits... 5 Taxability of Continuing Benefits... 7 Death/Burial Benefit... 8 Section II: Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety Member Death and Continuing Benefits... 9 Taxability of Continuing Benefits General Member Death and Continuing Benefits Taxability of Continuing Benefits Section III: Death of a LACERA Deferred Member Death Benefits Taxability of Death Benefits Section IV: Resources Terms to Know Important Phone Numbers Contact Us

5 Section I Death of a LACERA Retiree Death of a LACERA Retiree Continuing Benefits 1. Q: How are LACERA continuing benefits and eligibility determined? A. The benefits are determined by the Retirement Option the decedent elected at the time of retirement. Eligibility for continuing benefits benefits depends on the deceased member s retirement plan, and your relationship to the member. 2. Q: How will I find out which benefits I am entitled to receive? A. Upon notification of the member s death, LACERA researches the member s case to determine the available death benefits. It also reviews the member s account (including the member s Beneficiary Designation Form) to identify any eligible survivors or beneficiaries. Once applicable benefits and eligible survivors or beneficiaries are determined, LACERA sends the appropriate paperwork to the applicable parties. 3. Q: What is a monthly continuing allowance? A. A monthly continuing allowance is a benefit LACERA pays to eligible survivors or beneficiaries of deceased LACERA retirees. The allowance is a percentage of the monthly retirement allowance the decedent received during his or her lifetime. It is paid each month for the remainder of the recipient s life (regardless of any future change in the recipient s marital status).* *A continuing allowance to an eligible minor child continues until the child is no longer eligible. 4. Q: Are all LACERA continuing benefits paid as monthly allowances? A. No. Depending on the retirement plan, some members can elect to have their continuing benefit paid as a single lump-sum payment, rather than a continuing allowance. The structure of your continuing benefit is determined by the Retirement Option the decedent elected at retirement. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 5

6 Death of a LACERA Retiree 5. Q: I am the surviving spouse of a LACERA retiree who just died. Can t I just continue to receive my spouse s monthly retirement allowance? A. No. According to the law, LACERA retirement allowances end the month of the retiree s death. That s why it s so important to promptly notify LACERA of the death. The sooner LACERA is notified, the sooner a benefit account in the survivor s name can be established. 6. Q: My spouse, who was a LACERA retiree, just died. When will LACERA make my spouse s final retirement allowance payment? A: LACERA will issue a full and final retirement allowance payment on the last business day of the month in which the retiree died. 7. Q: Are continuing monthly benefits to survivors or designated beneficiaries eligible for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)? A: Yes. The COLA provision in the law that applies to retirement allowances also applies to continuing benefits to eligible survivors or designated beneficiaries. Retiree allowances and continuing benefits are adjusted by the Board of Retirement each April 1, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 8. Q: Can I name a beneficiary to receive my monthly continuing allowance after my death? A: No. The allowance will be discontinued upon your death. 9. Q: My spouse, who was a LACERA retiree, just died. Am I eligible for a LACERA-administered health plan? A: It depends on the circumstances of your situation. Generally, any survivor or beneficiary who is receiving a continuing monthly allowance from LACERA and who qualifies as a surviving eligible dependent (as defined by LACERA s Retiree Healthcare Administrative Guidelines) is eligible to enroll in LACERAadministered healthcare coverage.* Survivors and dependents who had continuous coverage under the decedent s LACERAadministered health plan, but are not eligible for a continuing monthly allowance, may apply for continued healthcare benefits (for a maximum of 36 months) under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). *Member s surviving spouse, domestic partner, minor child(ren), or disabled dependent children who meet eligibility requirements. 6

7 Death of a LACERA Retiree When an eligible survivor notifies LACERA of a member s death, LACERA mails a healthcare benefits information packet to the survivor. The packet includes information on benefits and premium rates, along with an enrollment form. To avoid late enrollment rules, the survivor must notify LACERA within 30 days of the member s death. Note: Under The Affordable Care Act, individuals who are ineligible to enroll in Medicare have the option to buy health insurance coverage through an insurance exchange. Some may find that option preferable to continuing coverage in a LACERA-administered health plan. To determine your best course of action, review all available coverage options and premium costs. 10. Q: My spouse, who just died, was covered under a LACERAadministered healthcare plan. If I continue in a LACERAadministered healthcare plan, will the County subsidize my premiums? A: If the County was subsidizing your spouse s (or domestic partner s) LACERA-administered healthcare premiums, based on his or her length of County service, the County will contribute the same percentage toward your premiums (as the eligible survivor). Taxability of Continuing Benefits 1. Q: Are continuing monthly allowances taxable? A: Yes, under most circumstances.* However, you may elect to have federal or California state tax withheld from your continuing allowance at whatever rate you choose. (California income tax is not withheld from your continuing allowance if you reside outside of California.) Or you may elect not to have withholding deducted from your continuing allowance. You may designate your tax withholding elections on tax form W-4P/DE-4P, which LACERA will send you. Note: Without a completed tax form W-4P/DE-4P on file, LACERA is required by law to withhold taxes from your allowance as if you were a married person claiming three (3) withholding exemptions. *Exceptions may apply in certain cases where the decedent had been granted a serviceconnected disability retirement. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 7

8 Death of a LACERA Retiree 2. Q: Does LACERA report the amount of my continuing allowance to the IRS? A: Yes, as required by law. Each January, LACERA will send you a copy of the Form 1099-R it submits to the IRS. The form indicates the taxable amount of the benefit paid to you in the previous year. Death/Burial Benefit 1. Q: Does LACERA pay a death/burial benefit to the beneficiary of a retired member? A: Yes. A one-time lump-sum payment of $5,000 is payable upon the death of a LACERA retiree.* It is payable to the named beneficiary(ies) of the decedent, independent of any applicable continuing benefits. In cases where more than one beneficiary has been designated, the $5,000 is divided among all named beneficiaries in the percentages indicated on the decedent s Beneficiary Designation Form. *Upon the death of a retired reciprocal member, LACERA pays the death/burial benefit only if the member s last employing agency was L.A. County or an outside district. 2. Q: Are taxes withheld from the $5,000 death/burial benefit? A: Yes. Federal law requires LACERA to withhold 20 percent in federal income tax. Additionally, LACERA must withhold an additional two percent in state tax if the recipient resides in California. 3. Q: Is the $5,000 death/burial benefit eligible for a tax-deferred rollover to a traditional IRA or eligible employer plan? A: In most cases, yes. Benefit rollovers postpone taxation of the benefit until it is paid to you. However, individuals who reach age 70.5 on or before December 31 in the year the benefit is disbursed are not eligible to roll over their death/burial benefit. California residents are subject to state income tax on the benefit. Information on the taxability of payments from qualified employer plans (such as LACERA s) is available in IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, and IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. These publications are available from your local IRS office, on irs.gov, or by calling TAX-FORMS. For 8

9 Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety questions regarding your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor; LACERA does not offer legal or tax advice. 4. Q: Will LACERA send me a rollover form? A: If you are the beneficiary of a $5,000 death/burial benefit, LACERA will send you a Beneficiary Benefit Payment Rollover Form. Section II Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety Member Death and Continuing Benefits 1. Q: How does LACERA determine which benefits apply when an active safety member dies? A: Active safety member death and continuing benefits are based on category of death (service-connected or nonservice-connected) and vesting status (length of service). Eligibility for a service-connected disability benefit is determined by the Board of Retirement through the disability retirement application process. 2. Q: How is eligibility for those benefits determined? A: Benefit eligibility is based on your relationship to the decedent. 3. Q: Does LACERA pay death benefits on all active safety member deaths? A: Yes. Pre-retirement (active member) death benefits are included in all LACERA safety retirement plans (Safety Plans A, B, and C). 4. Q: How are benefits paid when an active safety member dies? A: Depending on the circumstances of the case, benefits may be payable as a lump-sum cash payment or a continuing monthly allowance, or a combination of the two. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 9

10 Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety 5. Q: How will I find out which benefits I am entitled to receive? A: Upon notification of the member s death, LACERA researches the member s case to determine the available death benefits. It also reviews the member s account (including the member s Beneficiary Designation Form) to identify any eligible survivors or named beneficiaries. Once applicable benefits and eligible survivors or named beneficiaries are determined, LACERA sends the appropriate paperwork to the applicable parties. 6. Q: What if the decedent didn t complete a LACERA Beneficiary Designation Form? A: According to the law, the decedent s surviving spouse or domestic partner or minor child (in the absence of a spouse or domestic partner) would receive any applicable death benefits. If the member did not have a survivor and did not name a beneficiary, benefits may be payable to an estate or trust, or to a declarant(s) under provisions of California Probate Code, Section Certain limitations apply. 7. Q: I am the spouse of an active LACERA safety member who recently died; however, I am not the named beneficiary. Am I eligible to receive death benefits? A: The rights of a surviving spouse or domestic partner of an active member who dies before retirement may take precedence over the rights of any other named beneficiary. For additional information, call to speak with a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist. 8. Q: Does LACERA pay special death benefits when a safety member dies in the performance of duty? A: Yes, under certain circumstances. If a safety member dies in the performance of duty or as the result of an accident or injury caused by external violence or physical force, his or her survivors may be eligible for special death benefits (in addition to whatever benefits otherwise apply). In such cases, LACERA will notify the eligible survivor of all applicable benefits. 9. Q: Are continuing monthly benefits to survivors or designated beneficiaries eligible for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)? A: Yes. The COLA provision in the law that applies to retirement 10

11 Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety allowances also applies to continuing benefits to eligible survivors or designated beneficiaries. Retiree allowances and continuing benefits are adjusted by the Board of Retirement each April 1, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 10. Q: Are active safety members covered by any Los Angeles County-sponsored benefits? A: County-sponsored benefits vary according to the member s benefits plan. Safety Plan A, B, or C participants in Options, Choices, and Flex benefit programs are covered by a $2,000 basic term life insurance plan paid by the County. In addition, some may have elected to purchase additional coverage. Flex and MegaFlex participants may have elected to purchase County-sponsored Group Variable Universal Life insurance. Contact the Los Angeles County Employee Benefits Hotline at for information on life insurance benefits. LACERA does not administer these plans. 11. Q: Does the federal government provide benefits for survivors of safety members killed in the line of duty? A: Yes. The Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) Program, which is administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, provides benefits to survivors of public safety officers killed in the line of duty. For information on PSOB, call LACERA does not administer these benefits. 12. Q: My spouse, who was an active LACERA safety member, just died. Am I eligible for coverage under a LACERAadministered health plan? A: It depends on the circumstances of the situation. Generally, any survivor or beneficiary who is receiving a continuing monthly allowance from LACERA and who qualifies as a surviving eligible dependent (as defined by LACERA s Retiree Healthcare Administrative Guidelines) is eligible to enroll in LACERAadministered healthcare coverage.* When an eligible survivor notifies LACERA of a member s death, LACERA mails a healthcare benefits information packet to the survivor. The packet includes information on benefits and premium rates, along with an enrollment form. *Member s surviving spouse, domestic partner, minor child(ren), or disabled dependent children who meet eligibility requirements. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 11

12 Death of an Active LACERA Member Safety Note: Under The Affordable Care Act, individuals who are ineligible to enroll in Medicare have the option to buy health insurance coverage through an insurance exchange. Some may find that option preferable to continuing coverage in a LACERA-administered health plan. To determine your best course of action, review all available coverage options and premium costs. Taxability of Continuing Benefits (Safety Member Death) 1. Q: Are continuing monthly allowances taxable? A: It depends on the circumstances of the death. If the safety member was killed in the line of duty (service-connected), the continuing allowance may not be taxable under IRS Code. For specifics on your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor. LACERA does not offer tax or legal advice. Generally, continuing allowances based on nonservice-connected deaths are taxable. However, you may elect to have federal or California state tax withheld from your continuing allowance at whatever rate you choose. (California income tax is not withheld from your allowance if you reside outside of California.) Or you may elect not to have withholding deducted from your allowance. You may designate your tax withholding elections on tax form W-4P/DE-4P, which LACERA will send you. Note: Without a completed tax form W-4P/DE-4P on file, LACERA is required by law to withhold taxes from your allowance as if you were a married person claiming three (3) withholding exemptions. 2. Q: Are taxes withheld from lump-sum payments on active safety member death benefits? A: That also depends on the circumstances of the death. If the safety member was killed in the line of duty (service-connected), lump-sum death benefits may qualify as non-taxable under IRS Code. For specifics on your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor. LACERA does not offer tax or legal advice. Lump-sum death benefits based on nonservice-connected deaths are taxable. Federal law requires LACERA to withhold 20 percent in federal income tax. Additionally, LACERA must withhold an additional two percent in state tax if the recipient resides in California. 12

13 Death of an Active LACERA Member General 3. Q: Are active safety member lump-sum death benefits eligible for a tax-deferred rollover to a traditional IRA or eligible employer plan? A: In most cases, yes.* Benefit rollovers postpone taxation of the benefit until it is paid to you. However, individuals who reach age 70.5 on or before December 31 in the year the benefit is disbursed are not eligible to roll over their death benefit. California residents are subject to state income tax on the benefit. Information on the taxability of payments from qualified employer plans (such as LACERA s) is available in IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, and IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. These publications are available from your local IRS office, on irs.gov, or by calling TAX-FORMS. For questions regarding your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor. LACERA does not offer legal or tax advice. *In certain cases, a portion of the benefit may not be taxable. LACERA will notify you of the taxable portion of the benefit. 4. Q: Does LACERA report the amount of the death and/or continuing benefits I receive to the IRS? A: Yes, as required by law. Each January, LACERA will send you a copy of the Form 1099-R it submits to the IRS. The form indicates the taxable amount of the benefit paid to you in the previous year. Death of an Active LACERA Member General Member Death and Continuing Benefits 1. Q: How does LACERA determine which benefits apply when an active general member dies? A: Active general member death and continuing benefits are based on the decedent s retirement plan, vesting status (length of service), and category of death (service-connected or nonservice-connected). Eligibility for a service-connected disability benefit is determined by the Board of Retirement through the disability retirement application process. 2. Q: How is eligibility for those benefits determined? A: Benefit eligibility is based on your relationship to the decedent. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 13

14 Death of an Active LACERA Member General 3. Q: Does LACERA pay death benefits on all active general member deaths? A: Pre-retirement (active member) death benefits are included in all LACERA contributory retirement plans (Plans A, B, C, D, and G). They are not included in LACERA s non-contributory Plan E. 4. Q: How are benefits paid when an active general member dies? A: Depending on the circumstances of the case, benefits may be payable as a lump-sum cash payment or a continuing monthly allowance, or a combination of the two. 5. Q: How will I find out which benefits I am entitled to receive? A: Upon notification of the member s death, LACERA researches the member s case to determine the available death benefits. It also reviews the member s account (including the member s Beneficiary Designation Form) to identify any eligible survivors or beneficiaries. Once applicable benefits and eligible survivors or beneficiaries are determined, LACERA sends the appropriate paperwork to the applicable parties. 6. Q: What if the decedent didn t complete a LACERA Beneficiary Designation Form? A: According to the law, the decedent s surviving spouse or domestic partner or minor child (in the absence of a spouse or domestic partner) would receive any applicable death benefits. If the member did not have a survivor and did not name a beneficiary, benefits may be payable to an estate or trust, or to a declarant(s) under provisions of California Probate Code, Section Certain limitations apply. 7. Q: I am the spouse of an active LACERA general member who recently died; however, I am not the named beneficiary. Am I eligible to receive death benefits? A: The rights of a surviving spouse or domestic partner of an active member who dies before retirement may take precedence over the rights of any other named beneficiary. For additional information, call to speak with a LACERA Retirement Benefits Specialist. 14

15 Death of an Active LACERA Member General 8. Q: Are continuing monthly continuing allowances eligible for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)? A: Yes. According to the law, the Board of Retirement adjusts retirement and continuing allowances each April 1, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 9. Q: Are active general members covered by any Los Angeles County-sponsored benefits? A: County-sponsored benefits vary according to the member s benefits plan. Plan A, B, C, D, and G participants in Options, Choices, and Flex benefit programs are covered by a $2,000 basic term life insurance plan paid by the County. In addition, some may have elected to purchase additional coverage. Flex and MegaFlex participants may have elected to purchase County-sponsored Group Variable Universal Life insurance. Contact the Los Angeles County Employee Benefits Hotline at for information on life insurance benefits. LACERA does not administer these plans. 10. Q: What benefits are payable to the surviving spouse or domestic partner upon the death of an active LACERA Plan E member? A: The surviving spouse or domestic partner of an active Plan E member may be eligible to receive benefits through the Los Angeles County Long-Term Disability and Survivor Benefit Plan. For information, call the Los Angeles County Employee Benefits Hotline at LACERA does not administer this plan. 11. Q: Does Los Angeles County sponsor life insurance benefits for active Plan E members? A: Yes. Plan E participants in Options, Choices, and Flex benefit programs are covered by a $10,000 basic term life insurance plan paid by the County. Additionally, Options and Choices participants may have elected to purchase additional coverage. Flex and MegaFlex participants may have elected to purchase County-sponsored Group Variable Universal Life insurance. Additionally, Plan E MegaFlex participants may have purchased a County-sponsored life insurance plan known as the Survivor Income Benefit (SIB). SIB provides survivors with a benefit equal to a percentage of the decedent s earnings. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 15

16 Death of an Active LACERA Member General Contact the Los Angeles County Employee Benefits Hotline at for information on life insurance benefits. LACERA does not administer these plans. 12. Q: My spouse, who was an active LACERA member, just died. Am I eligible for coverage under a LACERA-administered health plan? A: It depends on the circumstances of the situation. Generally, any survivor or beneficiary who is receiving a continuing monthly allowance from LACERA is eligible to enroll in LACERAadministered healthcare coverage. When an eligible survivor notifies LACERA of a member s death, LACERA mails a healthcare benefits information packet to the survivor. The packet includes information on benefits and premium rates, along with an enrollment form. Note: Under The Affordable Care Act, individuals who are ineligible to enroll in Medicare have the option to buy health insurance coverage through an insurance exchange. Some may find that option preferable to continuing coverage in a LACERA-administered health plan. To determine your best course of action, review all available coverage options and premium costs. Taxability of Continuing Benefits 1. Q: Are continuing monthly allowances taxable? A: Yes. However, you may elect to have federal or California state tax withheld from your monthly continuing allowance at whatever rate you choose. (California income tax is not withheld from your continuing allowance if you reside outside of California.) Or you may elect not to have withholding tax deducted from your continuing allowance. You may designate your tax withholding elections on tax form W-4P/DE-4P, which LACERA will send you. Note: Without a completed tax form W-4P/DE-4P on file, LACERA is required by law to withhold taxes from your allowance as if you were a married person claiming three (3) withholding exemptions. 16

17 Death of an Active LACERA Member General 2. Q: Are taxes withheld from lump-sum payments on active general member death benefits? A: Yes. Federal law requires LACERA to withhold 20 percent in federal income tax. Additionally, LACERA must withhold an additional two percent in state tax if the recipient resides in California. 3. Q: Are active general member lump-sum death benefits eligible for a tax-deferred rollover to a traditional IRA or eligible employer plan? A: In most cases, yes.* Benefit rollovers postpone taxation of the benefit until it is paid to you. However, individuals who reach age 70.5 on or before December 31 in the year the benefit is disbursed are not eligible to roll over their death benefit. California residents are subject to state income tax on the benefit. Information on the taxability of payments from qualified employer plans (such as LACERA s) is available in IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, and IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. These publications are available from your local IRS office, on irs.gov, or by calling TAX-FORMS. For questions regarding your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor; LACERA does not offer legal or tax advice. *In certain cases, a portion of the benefit may not be taxable. LACERA will notify you of the taxable portion of the benefit. 4. Q: Does LACERA report the amount of the death and/or continuing benefits I receive to the IRS? A: Yes, as required by law. Each January, LACERA will send you a copy of the Form 1099-R it submits to the IRS. The form indicates the taxable amount of the benefit paid to you in the previous year. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 17

18 Death of a Deferred LACERA Member Section III Death of a Deferred LACERA Member Death Benefits 1. Q: Does LACERA pay benefits for the death of a deferred member? A: Upon the pre-retirement death of a deferred member, the member s retirement contributions and accumulated interest are payable in a lump sum to the named beneficiary or estate. Taxability of Death Benefits 1. Q: Are taxes withheld from deferred member death benefits? A: Yes.* Federal law requires LACERA to withhold 20 percent in federal income tax. Additionally, LACERA must withhold an additional two percent in state tax if the recipient resides in California. *In certain cases, a portion of the decedent s retirement contributions may not be taxable. LACERA will notify you of the taxable portion of the benefit. 2. Q: Are deferred member death benefits eligible for a tax-deferred rollover to an IRA or eligible employer plan? A: In most cases, yes. Benefit rollovers postpone taxation of the benefit until it is paid to you. However, individuals who reach age 70.5 on or before December 31 in the year the benefit is disbursed are not eligible to roll over their death benefit. California residents are subject to state income tax on the benefit. Information on the taxability of payments from qualified employer plans (such as LACERA s) is available in IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, and IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. These publications are available from your local IRS office, on irs.gov, or by calling TAX-FORMS. For questions regarding your personal situation, consult with a professional advisor; LACERA does not offer legal or tax advice. 3. Q: Does LACERA report the amount of the death benefit I receive to the IRS? A: Yes, as required by law. In January, LACERA will send you a copy of the Form 1099-R it submits to the IRS. The form indicates the taxable amount of the benefit paid to you in the previous year. 18

19 Section IV Resources Resources Terms to Know Our discussion of death and continuing benefits includes terms that may be unfamiliar to you. To assist you in processing this information, we have included a glossary of the terms presented in this brochure. Active Member: A member of LACERA who was employed by the County at the time of his or her death. Contributory Plan: A LACERA retirement plan which requires contributions by the member. Decedent: The LACERA member who has recently died. Deferred Member: A vested member of LACERA Plan A, B, C, or D who left County service and left his or her Plan contributions on deposit with LACERA. Named Beneficiary: A person other than a survivor designated by the decedent to receive death and/or continuing benefits. Non-Contributory Plan: A LACERA retirement plan which does not require contributions by the member. Nonservice-Connected: Death unrelated to the member s County employment. Reciprocal Member: A member who earned retirement benefits under more than one California public retirement system. Certain restrictions apply. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 19

20 Resources Retired Member: A LACERA member who was retired from County service at the time of his or her death. Safety Member: A permanent Los Angeles County employee working in a designated firefighting, forestry, lifeguarding, or law enforcement position (including District Attorney investigators). Service-Connected: Death resulting from an injury arising out of and in the course of the member s County employment. Service Retirement: Retirement based on fulfillment of age and service requirements. Survivor (of Active Member): A spouse or domestic partner who married or entered into a duly registered domestic partnership with the member prior to the member s death. No minimum length of marriage or domestic partnership requirement applies. In the absence of a surviving spouse or domestic partner, the decedent s unmarried minor child(ren) under the age of 18 is deemed a survivor. Eligibility may be extended through the age of 21 if the eligible child(ren) remains unmarried and a full-time student in an accredited educational institution. Survivor (of Retired Member): The spouse of the deceased member. The spouse must have married the decedent one year prior to his or her retirement. Or, the registered domestic partner of the deceased member. Their domestic partnership must have been registered with the California Secretary of State, with a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, one year prior to the member s retirement. In the absence of a surviving spouse or domestic partner, the decedent s unmarried minor child(ren) under the age of 18 becomes an eligible survivor. Eligibility may be extended through the age of 21 if the eligible child(ren) remains unmarried and a full-time student in an accredited educational institution. 20

21 Resources Vested: An employee s entitlement to receive certain benefits (which may include continuing benefits) accrued under the employee s retirement plan. Vesting in LACERA Plans A, B, C, or D is based on the employee having completed five or more years of active County (or combined County and reciprocal system) service. Vesting in Plan E is based on ten or more years of active County (or combined County and reciprocal system) service. For more information on LACERA death and continuing benefits, visit the Benefits section of lacera.com: Benefits/Retired Member Post-Retirement Death and Continuing Benefits Benefits/Beneficiaries Beneficiary FAQs Benefits/Active Member Pre-Retirement Death and Continuing Benefits Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association 21

22 Resources Important Phone Numbers LACERA: Los Angeles County Employee Benefits Hotline: Social Security Administration: CIGNA Life (Basic Life or Group Term Life): MetLife (Group Variable Universal Life): Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co.: Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) Program: The relationship LACERA builds with each member is personal and enduring. It continues even after the member is gone, through survivor benefits. Upon the death of a member, his or her eligible survivors and beneficiaries are entitled to certain benefits. We recommend you store this card with your important papers for safekeeping. Important Information Regarding LACERA Death Benefits In the event of the death of a LACERA member, certain benefits may be payable to the member s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or named beneficiary. The information listed below will be helpful to the survivor in expediting the benefit process. 1. Call as soon as possible to notify LACERA of the member s death. 2. Upon notification of the member s death, LACERA will research the case to determine any applicable benefits and beneficiaries. 3. LACERA will send the appropriate forms. Note: By law, a retiree s monthly allowance ends in the month of death. The sooner LACERA is notified of the death, the sooner a benefit account in the survivor s name can be established. KEEP THIS CARD FOR FUTURE REFERENCE Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association If you have the LACERA Member s Survivor and Death Benefits Information Card The information on the card will be helpful when you notify LACERA of the members death. Our Contact Information Call Center: Call to speak with us Monday Friday 7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Member Service Center: Come in and meet with us. 300 N. Lake Avenue, Suite 100 Pasadena, CA Monday Friday 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. No appointment required. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7060 Pasadena, CA

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About LACERA. Produce, Provide. the Promised Benefits. About LACERA The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) has the duty and authority to administer defined retirement plan benefits for the employees of Los Angeles County (County)

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