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A beneficiary is the person, trust, estate, or organization named by an active, deferred, deferred reciprocal, or retired member to receive a benefit in the event of the member’s death.

Primary Beneficiary

A member’s primary beneficiary is the first beneficiary entitled to receive a benefit upon the member’s death. This individual may receive as much as 100 percent of a retired member’s death benefit (depending on the retirement option elected by the member), subsequent to the member’s death.

In active deaths, this is determined by the relationship of the recipient(s) to the decedent.

Secondary Beneficiary

All members may name one or more secondary beneficiaries. If no primary beneficiaries remain at the time of a retired member’s death, benefits may be divided equally among the member’s secondary beneficiary(ies), depending on the retirement option elected by the member at the time of retirement.

If no primary beneficiaries remain at the time of an active member’s death, benefits will be divided equally among the member’s secondary beneficiary(ies).


The following are beneficiary categories referenced within the Retirement Allowance Options:

Eligible Spouse

Must be married one year prior to the member’s retirement and submit an original certified marriage certificate

Eligible Domestic Partner

Must be registered with the California Secretary of State, with a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, one year prior to the member’s retirement

Eligible Child(ren)

  • Up to age 18
  • Unmarried
  • Eligibility may be extended through the age of 21 if the eligible child(ren) remains unmarried and a full-time student in an accredited educational institution
  • Surviving minor child(ren) are eligible for survivor allowances only when there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner

Person with Insurable Interest

According to California law, every person has an insurable interest in the life and health of:

  • Himself [herself]
  • Any person on whom he [or she] depends wholly or in part for education or support
  • Any person under a legal obligation to him [her] for:
    • payment of money
    • property or services of which death or illness might delay or prevent the performance
  • Any person upon whose life any estate or interest vested in him [her] depends

Beneficiary Priority under the Unmodified Option

Under the Unmodified Option, the law entitles your spouse or domestic partner, whether named as a beneficiary or not, to a continuing monthly allowance upon your death. If there is no spouse or domestic partner, the eligible minor children will receive the continuing allowance.


You may download a Beneficiary Form or change your Beneficiary on My LACERA.


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