PERAC's Survivor Guide - Gudie to Survivior Benefits for Public Employees
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This guide is designed to familiarize you with the benefits to which eligible benificiaries of public employees, who were members of Massachusetts contributory retirement systems, are entitled. The contents do not affect the contractual rights between a system and its members and, in the case of any conflict, Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws and the regulations promulgated by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) shall govern.

For procedures applicable to public employee retirement generally and to disability retirement specifically, members should refer to PERAC's Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Guide and PERAC's Guide to Disability Retirement for Public Employees.

Updates to This Guide
This guide reflects changes and amendments to the law through the passage of Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2011.

Membership in a contributory retirement system is mandatory for nearly all Massachusetts public employees who are regularly employed on a full-time basis. Membership status for public employees is defined in two ways in Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws: "member-in-service", and "member-inactive."

Any member who is regularly employed in the performance of his or her duties is considered a member-in-service. Member-in-service status continues until death or separation from service by reason of retirement, resignation, failure of reelection or re-appointment, or removal or discharge from office or position.

Members-in-service become members-inactive when they:
Retire and receive a retirement allowance; or

When their employment has been terminated and they are entitled to any present or potential retirement allowance or a return of accumulated payroll deductions; or

When they are on an authorized leave of absence without pay which extends for more than a year and which is for a reason other than retirement board duties or mental or physical incapacity for duty.

Massachusetts contributory retirement systems offer several types of survivor benefits to their members:
Survivor benefits that are based on a member selecting Option B or C
           upon retirement; (Survivor benefits are not payable under Option A.)

Survivor benefits for members-in-service who die prior to retirement;

Survivor benefits for inactive members;

Survivor benefits for accidental disability retirees;

Survivor benefits for firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and public prosecutors who are killed or who sustain injuries under certain circumstances which result in death while in the performance of their duties.

The amount of benefits payable in any particular instance may depend on a number of factors including the length of the member's service, the amount of the member's salary, the eligibility of the member's immediate family members, and the cause and date of the member's death.

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