Hybrid members: See related Hybrid Retirement Plan resources.

If you die while you are an active member from a non-work-related cause, your named beneficiary or your spouse, natural or legally adopted minor child or parent will be eligible for a death-in-service benefit according to whether or not you are vested at the time of your death:

  • If you are vested and your spouse, natural or legally adopted minor child or parent is one of your named beneficiaries, or is your beneficiary based on order of precedence (see "Order of Precedence" below), he or she will be eligible for a lump-sum payment of any balance in your member contribution account or a monthly benefit to the exclusion of all other primary beneficiaries.

  • If you are vested and your spouse, natural or legally adopted minor child or parent is not one of your named beneficiaries, or is not your beneficiary based on order of precedence, that beneficiary will be eligible for a lump-sum payment only.

  • If you are not vested, either your designated beneficiary or, if none, your beneficiary based on order of precedence will be eligible for a lump-sum payment only.

Non-Work Related Monthly Benefit Calculation

The non-work related monthly benefit is calculated based on your average final compensation , your total service credit , your age and the age of your eligible named beneficiary at the time of your death. Your age and your beneficiary's age are calculated as follows:

Plan 1

  • If you die before age 55, you are presumed to be age 55 for purposes of calculating the benefit. If your beneficiary is younger than you, the age difference is subtracted from age 55 to arrive at his or her adjusted age. If your beneficiary is older than you, the age difference is added to age 55 to arrive at his or her adjusted age.

  • If you die at age 55 or older, your age and the actual age of your beneficiary are used to calculate the benefit.

Plan 2

  • If you die before age 60, you are presumed to be age 60 for purposes of calculating the benefit. If your beneficiary is younger than you, the age difference is subtracted from age 60 to arrive at his or her adjusted age. If your beneficiary is older than you, the age difference is added to age 60 to arrive at his or her adjusted age.

  • If you die at age 60 or older, your age and the actual age of your beneficiary are used to calculate the benefit.

Order of Precedence

If you die while you are an active member from a non-work related cause and there is no valid beneficiary designation on file or your named beneficiary is deceased, VRS will pay a death-in-service benefit according to the following order of precedence, as required by law:

Note: The Designation of Beneficiary (VRS-2) allows you to elect the order of precedence instead of designating a beneficiary.

First, to your spouse

Your spouse may choose a lump-sum payment of any funds remaining in your member contribution account or a monthly benefit. The monthly benefit continues if your spouse remarries. It ends when your spouse dies.

If no spouse, to your natural or legally adopted minor child or children

Your natural or legally adopted minor child is eligible for a lump-sum payment of any funds remaining in your member contribution account or a monthly benefit. If you have more than one natural or legally adopted minor child, each child receives an equal share of the lump-sum payment or monthly benefit. The youngest child’s age is used to calculate the monthly benefit. As each child reaches age 18, his or her share of the benefit is redistributed equally among the remaining minor children. The benefit ends when the last child reaches age 18.

If no spouse or minor child or children, to your parent or parents

Your parent may choose a lump-sum payment of any funds remaining in your member contribution account or a monthly benefit. If both parents are living, each parent receives an equal share of the lump-sum payment or monthly benefit. The youngest parent’s age is used to calculate the monthly benefit. When one parent dies, the other parent receives the deceased parent’s share of the benefit. The benefit ends when the surviving parent dies.

If none of the above

Any retirement contributions and interest in your member contribution account are paid in a lump sum accordingly:

  • To your natural or legally adopted adult child or children

  • If none, to the descendants of your deceased natural or legally adopted adult child or children

  • If none, to the duly appointed executor or administrator of your estate

  • If none, to your next of kin under the laws of the state where you resided at the time of your death.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

If you die in service and your survivor or beneficiary is eligible for a monthly death-in-service benefit, he or she will be eligible for a COLA effective July 1 following one full calendar year (January 1 to December 31) from the date the monthly benefit begins. Read more about the COLA.

Deferring Taxes on Member Contribution Account Payments

Lump-sum payments of pretax member contributions and interest are subject to income taxes. For more information, see the IRS 402(f) - Special Tax Notice - VRS Defined Benefit Plans.