At SBCERA, we often receive the question: “Can I change my beneficiary after retirement?” The answer depends on a few things.
When you retired, you designated a beneficiary for any death benefits payable upon your passing. Depending on your chosen retirement option, your beneficiary may be eligible to receive an on-going payment (also called a “continuance”) after your death.
You might recall the general rule that you cannot change your beneficiary after retirement, even if your named beneficiary passes before you do. While that is true for the most part, there are a few exceptions.
Every member’s circumstances are different, so it’s important to contact SBCERA directly if you need to change your beneficiary information after retirement.
If you selected the Unmodified Option, which most retirees choose because it provides the highest monthly benefit, there are some limited situations where the designated beneficiary for a continuing payment could change due to a marriage, divorce, or death.
For example, if you were unmarried when you retired and later marry someone, your spouse may be eligible to receive the continuing payments if you are married to them at least two years prior to your death and they are at least 55 when you pass.
None of the other retirement options allow you to change who will receive continuing monthly payments after you retire. However, you can change who will receive a lump-sum payment of any undistributed, refundable funds in your account when you die.
Additionally, you can change who will receive the $1,000 burial allowance provided by SBCERA after you die. This person can be different than the beneficiary chosen to receive a continuing payment.
A beneficiary who will receive a continuing payment after your death must have an insurable interest in your life, such as your spouse or minor children, but members can name anyone to receive the lump-sum payment of the remaining funds or the burial allowance.
If you have no named beneficiary when you die, the lump-sum payment—if any funds remain in your account—and the burial allowance are transferred to your estate.
It’s important to remember that if you are married or in a registered domestic partnership, the law requires your spouse or partner’s notification for any beneficiary changes.
Because a number of special restrictions can apply to changing your beneficiary after retirement, you should contact SBCERA at (909) 885-7980 or memberservices@SBCERA.org if you want to learn more.