Life Events and Changes
You and your family may experience many different life events that affect your SERS retirement account. Events such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, divorce, and death should be reported to SERS so we can keep your retirement records up to date.
Marriage During Your Working Career
Birth/Adoption of a Child
Retirement benefits earned during a marriage are considered by Ohio courts to be marital property that may be divided upon termination of marriage.
If you divorce your spouse before you retire, the termination of marriage automatically revokes the member’s last beneficiary designation. SERS survivor benefits are paid as authorized in Ohio Revised Code sections 3309.44 and 3309.45.
SERS has no legal duty or authority to require SERS members to comply with the terms of their divorce or dissolution decree or separation agreement in relation to their SERS account. However, under Ohio Revised Code section 3309.46(B)(1) and Ohio Administrative Rule 3309-1-62, SERS must require a member to elect a joint life retirement plan with the former spouse as beneficiary if prior to retirement: (1) SERS has been provided with a copy of a court order requiring such election, and (2) the order specifies the percentage of the member’s retirement allowance to continue to the former spouse after the member’s death.
Please refer to the Domestic Relations Guide for more details.
Division of Property Orders (DOPOs)
Your future benefit payments, including any PLOP amount, can be subject to an Ohio Division of Property Order that requires you to pay a portion of your pension to a former spouse for purposes of dividing your marital property.
Your ex-spouse cannot receive payment until your payment begins, and payment must be in the same manner you receive (lump sum or monthly). Payment to your ex-spouse ceases when you stop receiving a payment. Regardless of the number of DOPOs SERS receives, the total amount deducted from your benefit cannot exceed 50% of your original benefit amount.
If you are going through a divorce, you should discuss these matters with your attorney.
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.
SERS is required to pay an amount of benefits equal to the contributions in your SERS account. If you are the beneficiary of a recently deceased member and need information about refunding their account, or want to apply for a benefit if eligible, refer to the Member Benefits Guide or call us toll-free at 800-878-5853.
Death of Your Spouse
If your spouse dies, it changes the beneficiary structure of your account. Please complete a Member Beneficiary Designation Form to update your SERS account.
Death of Your Beneficiary
If the account beneficiary designated by you dies before you retire, you should select a new beneficiary. You must designate a new beneficiary in writing on a form provided by SERS. Please complete a Member Beneficiary Designation Form to update your SERS account.