Survivor benefits

Learn more about the AFTRA Retirement Plan with the following Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

Survivor benefits

  • Q. If I am fully vested in my pension and I die before I retire, what happens to my pension benefits?

    A. Your surviving spouse or beneficiary will receive your pension as survivor benefits. The available payment options depend on several factors, including:

    •    Vesting status at the time of death,
    •    Marital status at the time of death, and
    •    Which payment option provides the greatest benefit.

    To determine what the pre-retirement survivor benefit would be in your case, contact Participant Services at (800) 562-4690 for a pension analysis.
  • Q. How do pension survivor benefits differ from the life insurance benefits I have with my health coverage?

    A. They are two different benefits provided under two different plans. The AFTRA Health Plan, which has earnings requirements for participation, includes a $30,000 life insurance benefit for participants covered under the Plan. There is also a $5,000 life insurance benefit for participants in the Senior Citizen Health Program. The Retirement Plan provides separate survivor benefits based on accumulated pension credits and pension status. If you participate in both the AFTRA Retirement Plan and either of the health plans listed above, you may be eligible for both benefits.
  • Q. What is the Designation of Beneficiary form that I filled out when I joined the Retirement Plan, and how does that differ from the other beneficiary form I completed?

    A. Since survivor benefits under the Retirement Plan are separate from any life insurance benefit that you may have under the Health Plan, two separate beneficiary designations are required. If you’re a Health Plan participant, you would have designated a life insurance beneficiary when you originally enrolled in the Health Plan. When you first became vested in the Retirement Plan, a separate beneficiary designation would have been required. If you are uncertain about your beneficiary designations, call Participant Services at (800) 562-4690, or complete a Designation of Beneficiary Form
  • Q. What if I die after I start taking my pension? What happens to my benefits?

    A. If you die after you begin receiving your pension, the amount of benefits due after your death would depend on what option you selected when you began your pension. Some options such as the Qualified Joint & Survivor Annuity require that the payments will continue to your spouse.  Other options guarantee five years of benefits, so that if death occurs before 60 pension payments have been made, monthly benefits are paid to a beneficiary until a total of 60 payments have been made. If there are benefits due, AFTRA H&R pays the beneficiary that you designated when you selected the annuity option.   
  • Q. My spouse was a member of the union who recently died, and I am the beneficiary. What steps do I need to take to collect my spouse’s AFTRA Retirement Fund pension?

    A. Please send AFTRA H&R a copy of the death certificate and a cover letter stating your relationship to the deceased. AFTRA H&R records will be reviewed and a survivor benefit letter will be mailed to the designated beneficiary.