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Would you believe it? More than 26,000 Teachers’ Retirement System members — approximately 22 percent of our members — have not filed a form designating one or more beneficiaries for their Qualified Pension Plan accounts. And more than 7,000 members (almost 7 percent of the membership) in the Tax-Deferred Annuity program have not designated one or more beneficiaries for their TDA accounts.
These members may be unaware that the death benefit is one of the key benefits of TRS membership. And now all in-service members and retirees can manage this benefit securely and conveniently online.
Members can view their QPP and TDA beneficiary designations through the secure area of the TRS website. You can also access the My Beneficiaries feature and add or remove beneficiaries or change the percentage you leave to each beneficiary. You can view the personal information on file for your beneficiaries — and update that information as needed.
There is one exception: If you have a trust on file or wish to designate a trust as beneficiary, you can’t make beneficiary changes online. You must submit a Designation of QPP Beneficiary Form (code EN6) and/or a Designation of TDA Beneficiary Form (code EN8) instead.
Online changes are validated almost instantly and take effect immediately; an email (and, in most cases, a letter) will confirm all changes. Even if you don’t need to change your beneficiary designations, we encourage you to periodically use the My Beneficiaries feature to make sure the information is correct and complete.
You may need to revise the forms due to life changes such as birth, death or divorce.
Over the years, we’ve found that payment of death benefits is often delayed when TRS cannot locate the beneficiaries. You can help TRS — and your loved ones — by making sure your beneficiaries’ information is updated.
If you prefer, you may still file paper forms. Download the forms and mail them to TRS at 55 Water St., New York, NY 10041.
If you aren’t sure whether you have named a beneficiary, you can find that information online or on any of the five account statements sent out each year: the four Quarterly Account Statements and your Annual Benefit Statement.
Remember: The QPP and TDA Program provide separate benefits payable in the event of a member’s death.
By the way, almost all of the union’s 53,969 retirees have filed a beneficiary form for their TDAs, but if you’re one of the 173 who has not, we urge you to do so at once.
TRS needs proof of birthday
Before TRS can process your loan request or calculate your benefits at retirement, there’s one thing it needs — proof of date of birth. So if you haven’t yet done so, please take care of this as soon as possible.
Acceptable proof of date of birth includes one of the following three documents:
- birth certificate
- naturalization document
If you don’t have these items, then you must provide two of the following:
- driver’s license
- certificate of military record
- form SSA-2458 Confidential Social Security Benefit Information
- other government-issued identification
You may submit a photocopy. If any of the documents is in a foreign language, you must provide a translation.
If you are not sure whether TRS has proof of your date of birth, please check your member profile in the secure area of the TRS website. If TRS does not have proof of your birthday, you will see a link labeled CERTIFY next to DOB.
You may upload your date-of-birth documentation via the system’s website or mail it to TRS.
This column is compiled by Tom Brown, David Kazansky and Debra Penny, teacher-members of the NYC Teachers’ Retirement Board.
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
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