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death benefits


Naming a beneficiary is one of the most important things you can do as an OPERS member. You are asked to identify primary and contingent beneficiaries when you are first enrolled in OPERS and again at retirement. This allows OPERS to pay death benefits the way you wish.

Keep OPERS Informed with Changes

You may change your beneficiary at any time by completing a new form. Reviewing your annual statement each year is an easy way to confirm our files reflect your current wishes. It is important to update your beneficiary after major life events like a marriage, divorce, birth, death or if someone’s name or address changes.

Each time you complete a beneficiary form, it cancels all prior beneficiary designations with OPERS. Your beneficiary change does not become effective until your Beneficiary Designation Form is signed and received in the OPERS office. Note: This beneficiary form will not update:

  • any life insurance
  • SoonerSave beneficiaries
  • or the joint annuitant you may have named at retirement.

Types of Beneficiaries

There are two types of beneficiaries you should name: primary and contingent.

  • Primary beneficiaries: These are the people (or entities) who will receive your benefit. All primary beneficiaries share equally, unless otherwise noted on the form.
  • Contingent beneficiaries:  These individuals only receive benefits in the event all primary beneficiaries are deceased. All contingent beneficiaries share equally, unless otherwise noted on the form.

Information to Provide

Each time you complete a new form, it is important you provide the full legal name, address, relationship, date of birth and Social Security Number of each individual person (taxpayer identification number for each institution) you designate. This information helps ensure we can locate the named beneficiary and the proper person receives the correct distribution.

Designating a Trust as Beneficiary

To designate a trust as beneficiary, you should provide the name of the trust and the date the trust was created in the space provided for naming a beneficiary. Please also provide a copy of the Memorandum of Trust with your beneficiary designation.

Divorce and Beneficiary Designation

Divorce voids the designation of your spouse as your beneficiary. Once your divorce is final, you are encouraged to complete a new designation form, naming a new beneficiary. You may designate a divorced spouse as your beneficiary, but you are still required to complete a new form, dated after the date of the divorce decree and renaming your former spouse as a beneficiary.

Report a Death

In the event of a member’s death, it’s important that a beneficiary or family member contact OPERS as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide the member’s name, Social Security number, date of death and contact information for relatives and/or beneficiaries.

OPERS will review the member’s record for instructions on beneficiary and/or survivor benefits. A copy of the Death Certificate may be needed before death benefits can be paid. We will contact the named individuals for additional information and to provide instructions and forms. For more information, see Death Benefits:

Active Member Death Benefits

Retired Member Death Benefits

Beneficiary Designation Form

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