Please accept our condolences on your loss. We, too, mourn the passing of your loved one.
Below is information on how to report the death of a benefit recipient, as well as what we will do next, important notes for survivors and frequently asked questions.
If you have any questions at any time, please contact us at 617-679-6877. We are here to help.

How to report the death of a benefit recipient

As soon as possible after the passing of an MTRS retiree or survivor benefit recipient, a member or representative of the person’s family should report the death either by:

  • submitting our Report of death of MTRS member or benefit recipient form, along with a photocopy of the death certificate. Please note that this form may be sent to us via fax, mail or email, or
  • calling our main office at 617-679-6877 (we will request that a photocopy of the death certificate be provided to us via fax or mail).

What we will do after receiving your report

  • Upon our receipt of the report of the benefit recipient’s death, we will stop the benefit recipient’s benefit payment immediately.
  • Within seven days of our receipt of your report, we will contact you to let you know the next steps. You may be required to complete a benefit claim form that we will send you, and also submit additional documentation.
  • The next steps vary, depending on:
    • the type of benefit that the person was receiving (regular or accidental disability retirement, or survivor benefit);
    • if the person was a retiree, the particular retirement allowance option—Option A, B or C—that he or she chose upon his or her retirement;
    • the survivor’s relationship to the member;
    • the type of beneficiary the member specified and who the member named as a beneficiary on his or her MTRS Beneficiary Designation form; and
    • when in the month the benefit recipient passed away and when we received notice of his or her death.
  • Generally, if any survivor benefit payment is due, it will be processed in 30–60 days from the date that we receive all required documentation.

Important notes for survivors

  • A copy of the death certificate is required before any benefits due will be paid. The MTRS must receive a copy of the benefit recipient’s death certificate before making any payment to a survivor.
  • Depending on when in the month the benefit recipient passed away and when we received notice of his or her death, we may need to recover an overpayment of benefits from the benefit recipient’s bank or estate. Retirement benefits for a particular month are processed by us in the middle of the month, and paid at the end of that month (in other words, the payment received at the end of July is the payment of benefits earned for July). Accordingly, if we learn of a benefit recipient’s death after we have processed his or her payment for that month, it is usually too late for us to stop the payment, which results in an overpayment of benefits. When a retirement allowance is paid to the benefit recipient after his or her death, the MTRS must recover the overpayment either from the benefit recipient’s bank or estate. If necessary, such overpayment will be deducted from the lump-sum payment, if any, or the member-survivor monthly payment(s).
  • If the benefit recipient was receiving health or other optional insurance coverage through his or her MTRS retirement benefit, please contact the insurance provider—the city, town or Group Insurance Commission —for information on insurance consequences. The MTRS does not administer medical, dental or life insurance benefits for our benefit recipients; we simply facilitate the payment of premiums to the cities, towns and Group Insurance Commission (GIC) by deducting premiums directly from benefit recipients’ benefit payments.

Frequently asked questions

What types of survivor benefits does the MTRS provide?

A survivor may receive no benefit, a single lump-sum payment or a monthly member-survivor benefit, depending on the deceased benefit recipient’s status (as a regular or disability retiree, or a survivor benefit recipient) and, if the person was a retiree, the option he or she retired under.


Status of deceased
benefit recipient
Benefits payable to survivor(s) upon benefit recipient’s death, if any
Option A retiree Amount of retiree’s benefits earned in month of death only; there is no survivor benefit.
If there are any benefits that were earned by the retiree in the month of his or her death, but that were not issued to the retiree, they will be pro-rated based on the number of days in the month that the retiree lived, and paid in a lump sum to either the retiree’s designated month-of-death-benefits beneficiary or estate.
Option B retiree Balance remaining in annuity account, if any, plus amount of retiree’s benefits earned in month of death.
In most cases, the member’s annuity account will be depleted 9 to 11 years after his or her retirement date.
Option C retiree Continuing monthly survivor benefit for survivor’s lifetime.
The amount of the survivor’s benefit is equal to 2/3 of the amount of the retiree’s benefit at the time of his or her death.
Survivor (either of an Option C retiree or member who died while in active service) Amount of survivor’s benefits earned in month only; the survivor’s benefit ceases upon the death of the survivor.
Accidental disability retiree who applied for disability retirement prior to 11/7/1996 A minimum spousal survivor benefit of $1,000/month to the surviving spouse if he or she was married to the retiree at the time of his or her retirement. Prior to November 7, 1996, accidental disability retirees could not selection Option C; later legislation allowed for the selection of Option C, and also for a minimum benefit to surviving spouses of members who applied for accidental disability retirement before that date.

How do I know which option the member retired under?

The MTRS has this information on file. It is also included on the Option Selection page that the member submitted to us at the time of his or her retirement, as well as the Notice of Estimated Retirement Benefit form that was mailed to members who retired after June 2005. We advise members to keep a copy of these forms with their important papers.

The benefit recipient’s regular benefit payment payment arrived after he or she died. What should I do with this money?

If the member’s retirement allowance was paid by:

  • a monthly check mailed to the member, any check(s) received after the date of death must not be cashed but must be returned directly to the MTRS. We will determine which portion of the payment represents benefits earned by the member from the beginning of the month through the date of death; this pro rata share of the member’s retirement benefit will be paid to the member’s beneficiary or to his or her estate.
  • direct deposit (electronic transfer) to the member’s bank account, we will discontinue the automatic transfer as soon as we learn of the member’s death and recover as much of the overpayment as allowable directly from the bank. We will determine the amount of any overpayment to the account and require reimbursement from the member’s estate.

Please note that if any retirement allowance was paid to the member after his or her death, the MTRS must recover the overpayment before paying a survivor benefit. If necessary, such overpayment will be deducted from the lump-sum payment, if any, or the member-survivor monthly payment(s).

If the MTRS isn’t notified in a timely manner of a retiree’s death and an overpayment occurs, what do you do to collect the overpayment?

In the event that we are not notified in a timely manner of a retiree’s death, or the retiree’s death occurs after our mid-month processing date and we are unable to stop their benefit payment, an overpayment may occur. When this happens, it is our responsibility to recover any benefits paid after the date of death.

In these cases, we understand that it may be a difficult time, and we work closely with our retiree’s survivors, and his or her estate, to explain the steps that we need to take to reclaim the overpayment, or that they need to take to repay it.

In brief:

  • Shortly after being notified of a benefit recipient’s death, we send a notice to the recipient’s bank, requesting the reclamation of the overpaid funds. We also mail a copy to the estate’s administrator or other contact person.
  • If the recipient’s bank does not return the full amount of overpaid funds to the MTRS within three weeks, or if the funds recovered do not eliminate the debt, we then send a billing letter to the surviving spouse or contact person (or, if there is no contact person, to the estate), notifying the estate of the remaining debt, how to pay the debt, and requesting payment within 30 days.

In most cases, the recipient’s bank or survivor returns the overpaid funds to the MTRS, and the retiree’s account is closed.

However, if the amount is not repaid, the MTRS will pursue several options to recover the funds. The Board may:

  • refer the debt to a collection agency,
  • report it to the Department of Revenue so that any funds payable to the estate may be intercepted, or
  • deduct the remaining debt from the surviving spouse’s monthly benefit if he or she is also an MTRS retiree, and our records indicate that the retiree and the surviving spouse were married and living together at the time of the retiree’s death.