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Death & Survivor Benefits

Reporting Deaths
Either your employer or relative should notify KTRS by telephone or letter soon after your death in order to facilitate the processing of the necessary papers. The executor of the estate or your beneficiary will be sent information concerning the benefits available and forms for requesting the life insurance benefit.


What Are Survivor Benefits

Survivor Benefits are monthly benefits provided to the survivors of an active contributing member upon the death of the member. Survivor benefits are also available to survivors if the member has made contributions in the previous fiscal year or if the member is receiving an allowance based on the disability retirement formula at the time of death. Persons who may, if eligible, qualify for survivor benefits include:

  1. A member's widow or widower if named as primary beneficiary;
  2. Unmarried children:
    a. Under age eighteen (18);
    b. Up to age twenty-three (23) if a full-time student in college; and
    c. Mentally or physically disabled adult children;
  3. Dependent parents; or
  4. Dependent brothers or sisters.

Survivor benefits are not available once the member retires under the service retirement formula. Survivor benefits terminate upon the marriage of the survivor. Survivor benefits are available in lieu of a refund of a member’s account.

The five (5) categories of survivor benefits are discussed in greater detail below:

Surviving Spouse Benefits
The basic monthly payment for a surviving spouse is $180 with no restriction on other income. If a surviving spouse's income from other sources is less than $6,600 per year, they are eligible to receive $240 per month. Monthly payments are guaranteed for a surviving spouse's life, but eligibility ceases upon remarriage.

A member with a minimum of ten (10) years of KTRS service upon death may provide a surviving spouse with an actuarially equivalent annuity. This annuity would become available to the surviving spouse at the time the member would have become eligible for retirement. Monthly payments are guaranteed for a surviving spouse's life with eligibility ceasing upon remarriage. Surviving spouses selecting this benefit may receive monthly survivor benefits of $180 or $240 while waiting to qualify for the annuity benefits provided they do not remarry before eligibility conditions are met.

A surviving spouse may be eligible for these benefits only if the member designated the spouse as his or her primary beneficiary.

Children and Other Dependents
Dependent children under age eighteen (18) qualify for a monthly allowance regardless of the income or marital status of the remaining parent. Benefit eligibility ceases at the end of the month the child reaches age eighteen (18) or marries, or age nineteen (19) if still a full-time high school student. Surviving children may apply to continue these benefits into the ages between eighteen (18) and twenty-three (23) if they are full-time students in a recognized educational program beyond the high school level. Eligibility for benefits ceases at age twenty-three (23), when a student drops to part-time status, graduates or leaves school, or upon marriage. Payments are suspended for the period between high school graduation and full-time enrollment and attendance in college. If a surviving child marries while receiving benefits, his or her eligibility for benefits is terminated.

If there is a surviving child who is age eighteen (18) or older whose mental or physical condition made that child dependent on the member at the time of death, the child is eligible for a allowance of $200 per month. This allowance is payable for the life of the child or until the mental or physical condition creating the dependency no longer exists or the child marries. Dependent parents or siblings may qualify for survivor benefits in the absence of a widow, widower, minor children, or a physically or mentally incapacitated adult child if they are able to establish dependency upon the deceased member.

NOTE: Eligibility conditions will require members providing part-time and substitute services to complete at least sixty-nine hundredths of a full contract year before they and their survivors are eligible for survivor benefits and the life insurance benefits. For example, a substitute teacher in a school district which uses a 187-day contract will have to complete 129 days before these benefits are available (if the calculated number of total required days results in a fractional day, it is rounded down to the nearest whole day).

Death of a Member Eligible to Retire
If an active contributing member dies with twenty-seven (27) or more years of service or is at least fifty-five (55) years of age with five (5) years of service, the surviving spouse, or in the absence of an eligible spouse a legal dependent, if named as primary beneficiary, may choose to receive an annuity in lieu of survivor benefits or a refund of the member's account. The annuity will be actuarially equivalent to the annuity the member would have received had the member retired the day before death. A spouse or legal dependent is limited to selecting an option providing either a straight life annuity with refundable balance (Option I) or a term certain option. Survivor benefits to minor children are not affected by the spouse's or dependent's selection of these options. A spouse or legal dependent would continue to receive benefit payments for their lifetime with no income restrictions. A spouse's remarriage would not affect eligibility.

A surviving spouse, of an active member who was eligible to retire upon death, may elect to participate in medical insurance coverage available through KTRS by making the appropriate premium payments. This election must be made within thirty (30) days of the member's death. Medical coverage terminates if the spouse remarries.

Refund of Member Contributions
If there are no eligible survivors for one of the foregoing monthly survivorship benefits, the accumulated contributions plus interest will be paid to either the designated beneficiary or estate. Or, if survivor benefits are terminated before total payments equal the refundable amount in the KTRS account at the time of death, the difference will be paid to the designated beneficiary or estate.

Life Insurance Benefit
You are covered by a $2,000 life insurance benefit from the first day of employment in a full-time KTRS covered position. This coverage continues as long as you remain in active contributing status. Service and disability retirees are covered by a $5,000 life insurance benefit. Life insurance benefits are paid to the member's estate or designated beneficiary. To designate a beneficiary, you must complete a "Designation of Beneficiary for KTRS Life Insurance Benefit" form (Note: divorce will void a spouse’s designation as beneficiary). The life insurance benefit is payable in addition to any other benefits that may accrue and is comparable to a paid-up life insurance policy.

NOTE: Eligibility conditions will require members providing part-time and substitute services to complete at least sixty-nine hundredths of a full contract year before they and their survivors are eligible for survivor benefits and the life insurance benefits. For example, a substitute teacher in a school district which uses a 187-day contract will have to complete 129 days before these benefits are available (if the calculated number of total required days results in a fractional day, it is rounded down to the nearest whole day).

479 Versailles Road, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 / Phone: 1-800-618-1687