Death Benefits

Death benefits are payable to the designated beneficiary(ies) of an active KCERA member who dies before retiring. The benefits paid will depend on whether the member was vested or non-vested at the time of death and whether the death was job-related. Because the member’s beneficiary designation determines who receives the death benefits, please be aware of the following facts when making or updating your designation.

  • When you were hired, you designated a beneficiary on your Member Sworn Statement. Depending on life changes since then, you may need to update your beneficiary information using KCERA’s Beneficiary Designation Form. The most recently received designation form will replace older versions.
  • Even if you did not designate your current spouse or registered domestic partner as your primary beneficiary, California law requires KCERA to give priority to that person when paying certain retirement benefits. If you do not have a spouse or partner, you can designate your children, parents or siblings.

Below is a summary of the survivorship benefits payable after an active member dies. For more information about survivorship benefits, please consult the Member Handbook or contact the KCERA office.

Vested or Non-Vested
& Other Factors
Job-Related Death Not Job-Related Death
Non-Vested:
Less than 5 years
of service
  • Lifetime monthly benefit to eligible beneficiary* equal to 50% of member’s final compensation, or
  • “Basic Death Benefit” if there is no eligible beneficiary, or
  • Combined benefit.**
  • “Basic Death Benefit”:
    Lump-sum payment of member contributions plus lump-sum payment equal to one month of salary for each full year of service (up to six months’ salary).
Vested: More than
5 years of service
  • Lifetime monthly allowance to eligible beneficiary* equal to 50% of member’s final compensation, or
  • “Basic Death Benefit” if there is no eligible beneficiary.
  • Combined benefit.**
  • “Basic Death Benefit,” or
  • Lifetime monthly allowance to eligible beneficiary* equal to 60% of nonservice-connected disability if member had retired as of date of death, or
  • Combined benefit.**
Vested or non-vested
& death by physical
violence on the job
  • “Job-Related Death” benefits listed above, and
  • Monthly benefit for eligible children:
    1 Child: 25% of FAC
    2 Children: 40% of FAC
    3+ Children: 50% of FAC
Vested or non-vested
& safety member
  • “Job-Related Death” benefits listed above, and
  • Lump-sum payment to eligible spouse/partner equal to a full year of member’s salary as of date of death.

* An “eligible beneficiary” can be a spouse or registered domestic partner to whom the member was married or registered for at least one year prior to the date of death. If there is no eligible spouse or partner, the member’s unmarried child(ren) under age 18 (up to age 22 if enrolled full-time in an accredited college) can be designated.

** A “combined benefit” is available only to an eligible spouse/partner. It includes a lump-sum payment of one month’s salary for each full year of service credit (up to six months’ salary) and a monthly benefit reduced by the actuarial equivalent of the lump-sum payment based on the spouse/partner’s age.

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