Upon an OCERS member’s death, certain benefits may be payable to
a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or designated
beneficiary(ies). Use this section as a guideline and allow us
to help you through a time of sorrow with any death benefit(s)
Notify OCERS of the member's death
Call (714) 558-6200 to report the
member's death as soon as possible.
OCERS requires an original certified copy of member’s death
certificate. Photocopies are not acceptable.
Once notified of a member’s death,
OCERS will research the
member’s file to determine any applicable survivor and/or death
Submit required documents
A few of the most commonly required documents include:
Original or original certified copy of the
Marriage Certificate or Certificate of Registered Domestic
or original certified copy(ies) of
Birth Certificate(s) of qualified
spouse/domestic partner or qualified minor child(ren)
Social Security Number (or Tax Identification
Number) of beneficiary(ies)
Photocopy of valid Driver’s License or State ID of
To pay benefits to a trust or estate, OCERS must
have the Tax Identification Number (TIN) issued to the trust or
estate by the Internal Revenue Service.
Receiving benefit payment(s)*
Monthly Survivor Benefits
commence with the payroll cycle immediately following the
deceased member’s last payment.
Lump Sum Death Benefit
payments are issued to designated beneficiaries within 30 days
after receiving all the required documents.
This benefit is taxable and will have mandatory federal and
state taxes withheld.
Benefit processing time may vary according to how soon OCERS
receives all required documents.
Because of community property laws in the State of California, a
spouse, ex-spouse, or qualified domestic partner may have
certain rights that supersede those of designated beneficiaries.
Benefits payable from the Retirement System to an Eligible
Spouse or Domestic Partner after the member’s death. In the
absence of an Eligible Spouse or Domestic Partner, the
decedent’s Eligible Child(ren) may qualify for Survivor
Eligible Spouse or Domestic Partner:
The person to whom you are legally married or with whom you have
a registered domestic partnership. For purposes of receiving
benefits, the term has different meanings depending on the
Retired Member – Survivor:
In order to be considered an eligible spouse or domestic partner
for the purpose of receiving a monthly Survivor Benefit you must
be legally married or entered domestic partnership at the time
of the member’s passing and marriage/domestic partnership must
have taken place a year prior to member’s retirement. If the
marriage or domestic partnership took place after the member’s
retirement, the couple must be continuously married or
registered domestic partnership for at least two years and the
survivor must be at least 55 years of age at the time of
Active Member - Survivor:
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.
Eligible Child (Children):
Child/children under the age of 18, or under the age of 22 if
unmarried, and a full-time student. This includes adopted
In the absence of a surviving spouse or domestic partner, the
decedent's unmarried minor child(ren) under age 18 is deemed a
survivor. Eligibility may be extended through age 22 if the
eligible child(ren) remain(s) unmarried and in full-time student
status in an accredited educational institution. For the
Nonservice-connected and Service-connected Disability Retirement
allowance, an Eligible Child is a natural or adopted child of
the deceased member, or a stepchild living or domiciled with the
deceased member at the time of his or her death.