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The Survivor Benefits Program is a way you can make sure your spouse and dependents receive benefits in the event of your premature death. Under this program, qualified survivors can receive monthly benefits. If your beneficiary is not entitled to monthly benefits, he or she is entitled to the accumulated contributions in your individual account.   [Read More...]

Qualifying Conditions - The Member

You must meet certain requirements in order to qualify your beneficiary for monthly survivor benefits:

  1. You must have at least 1½ years of contributing service credit.
  2. At least ¼ year of Ohio service credit must have been earned within the 2½ years prior to death. This requirement is waived if a member is receiving a disability benefit from one of the three major Ohio retirement systems at the time of death or was eligible to retire.
  3. You cannot be receiving a regular retirement benefit.

Most members with families find that the succession of beneficiaries prescribed by Ohio law will meet their requirements.

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This statutory order of succession is as follows:

  1. Your surviving spouse
  2. Your children sharing equally
  3. Dependent parent aged 65 or older
  4. Parents sharing equally
  5. Your estate

Regardless of who your beneficiary is, if you are survived by children under age 19, who would be entitled to monthly benefits if they were your beneficiary, your children and any other qualified survivor shall receive monthly benefits.

You can file a Beneficiary Form if the order in the law does not meet your requirements. The form is available from your school or from SERS.

Each Beneficiary Form that you file revokes all previous designations of beneficiaries made in this or any one of the other major state retirement systems.


Your beneficiary must meet the following basic requirements to qualify for monthly survivor benefits:

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  • Surviving spouse - age 62 or any age if member had 10 or more years of service credit 
  • Surviving spouse - at any age, with minor child(ren)
  • Disabled surviving spouse, child at any age
  • Natural and adopted children under age 19
  • Dependent parent(s) age 65 or older
  • Any combination of the above.
Monthly benefits will be paid to a spouse and/or qualified children under Schedule I, II, or III, whichever is greater. If there are no qualified children, the spouse or other beneficiary can elect a lump-sum refund of the member’s contributions instead of monthly benefits.   [Read More...]

Benefits will begin on the first of the month following your death, or as your qualified survivors meet eligibility requirements.

If a member is eligible for service retirement when death occurs but has not yet retired, and is survived only by a spouse or a dependent beneficiary, the spouse or the dependent beneficiary can choose to accept a monthly payment equal to that which the member could have provided the beneficiary if the member had retired.


Service credit can affect both the size of some benefits and when they begin. The spouse or dependents of a deceased member can buy certain types of service credit previously available for purchase by the member.   [Read More...]
Survivors can purchase any credit the member was eligible to purchase including military service, SERS credit cancelled by withdrawal, school service outside Ohio’s public system, service within the Ohio Police & Fire or State Highway Patrol, and noncontributing service.   [Hide]

A $1,000 lump-sum death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiary upon your death. If you have multiple beneficiaries, this will be distributed equally among them. By law, if you do not designate a beneficiary, statutory succession will apply. Payment will be made only upon receipt of a death certificate and evidence of qualification, as required by SERS.

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If the beneficiary designated by you at retirement dies first, you should select a new beneficiary. You must designate a new beneficiary in writing on a form provided by SERS. Contact our office for this form.