Survivor Benefits

What You Should Know About Survivor Benefits


In general, if you should die prior to being retirement eligible, your beneficiary will receive a survivor benefit equal to double your contributions, including interest accrued, plus any service purchase payments at the time of your death.

Spousal Consent Legislation

Legislation passed in 2012 specifies that community property statutes in Arizona apply to ASRS benefits. Effective July 1, 2013, ASRS members who are married will be required to name their spouse as a primary beneficiary with at least 50 percent of the benefit. The law provides for a waiver of this requirement if the ASRS receives a notarized signature from the spouse waiving rights to a portion of the ASRS benefit. The spousal consent form is available here.

When you submit your retirement application, change your beneficiary, or if you pass away and before any survivor benefits are paid, the ASRS will review your account to ensure compliance with the law.

Choosing Beneficiaries


At the time of retirement, you may choose an annuity option that passes to a beneficiary at the time of death. Retirees who choose this option will have their monthly annuity actuarially reduced.

You may also choose to receive an actuarially reduced Health Insurance Premium Benefit (if eligible) that passes to a beneficiary at the time of your death.

Reporting a Death

To report the death of a member, please contact the ASRS by telephone. To reach the ASRS during business hours, call:

  • 602-240-2000 in the Phoenix metro area
  • 520-239-3100 in the Tucson metro area
  • 800-621-3778 for areas outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas

Once the ASRS has been notified, a packet will be sent to the primary beneficiary(ies) on file. Please note that before the ASRS can process a Survivor Benefit payment, the following documents must be received:

  • An original certified death certificate*.
    *The original certified death certificate is retained for 90 days after being received and then shredded. Participants can still request the document back within 90 days.
  • A copy of the beneficiary's Social Security card.
  • A notarized ASRS application to claim survivor benefits.
  • If the beneficiary is an estate or trust, a copy of the court-appointed personal representative, a copy of the trust and a completed W-9 form.

Log in to Check Your Estimate

If you are not yet retired, you can check your current estimated survivor benefit, including estimated interest through today, by logging in to your myASRS secure account.

If you are retired, you log in to your myASRS account to view an estimate of remaining survivor benefits under 'Benefit Details'. This estimate is based on your retirement election and benefits paid to the retiree to date. 

myASRS Login


Frequently Asked Questions

If I pass away, who is the ASRS going to pay?

That's a great question! The ASRS pays your last designated primary beneficiary(ies) on account, whether submitted online or via paper form, with only one exception explained in the next question/answer. Log in to check who is listed as your beneficiary. A full 25% of our members have never designated anyone. In that case, we go by statutory order.

Choosing Beneficiaries

If I don't name a beneficiary, who will the ASRS pay?

Arizona Revised Statutes require the ASRS to locate and pay beneficiaries in a particular order of priority, beginning with the current spouse. Read all about it here.

What if my beneficiary pre-deceases me?

If your beneficiary passes away it is important for you to designate a new one as soon as possible. If you are retired you may be eligible to get a higher retirement benefit, depending which option you chose when you retired. If you die without choosing a new beneficiary we will go by order of priority as defined in statute. If you elected one of the Joint and Survivor options, and your beneficiary pre-deceases you, you have two important options. 1) You can 'rescind' the elected Joint and Survivor option in favor of the Straight Live Annuity, which would increase your monthly benefit, or 2) You can name another beneficiary under the elected Joint and Survivor option. Important: It is up to the member to notify the ASRS when your beneficiary has passed away and that you would like to rescind your election and 'pop up' to the Straight Life Annuity. Any increase in benefit will not be made retroactive.

What if I had named my spouse, but later divorced?

By law, divorce automatically nullifies any previously named spouse as beneficiary to your ASRS pension benefits. It is important for you to update your beneficiary after your divorce is final. Once divorced, your former spouse is not eligible for survivor benefits UNLESS you re-name the ex-spouse as your primary beneficiary after the divorce is final.

How long will the survivor benefits last?

    • Non-Retired members: Depending on how many years of service you have and your account balance, your beneficiary may be eligible for a monthly benefit for his/her lifetime
    • Retired members: This depends on the option you chose when you retired.

Log in to your myASRS account for an estimate.

myASRS Login

How long does it take for survivor benefits to begin?

For those beneficiaries eligible for a continuing benefit, the ASRS strives to have no gap in benefit payments to the survivor. However, identifying all eligible beneficiaries can be difficult if the member does not keep beneficiaries up to date. Please note that the ASRS must collect any overpayments made to the deceased member after their death before paying benefits to the survivors retroactive to the cessation of the member's benefits. It is important to report the member's death as soon as possible to avoid overpayments into the member's account.

My spouse died after receiving his/her check for the month. Does it have to be returned?

No. You do not have to return pension payments for the month in which the retiree passes away, but you will have to return any subsequent payments paid to him/her.
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