79-956. Death of member before retirement; contributions; how treated; direct transfer to retirement plan; death while performing qualified military service; additional death benefit.

(1) If a member dies before his or her retirement date, his or her accumulated contributions shall be paid to his or her estate, to an alternate payee pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order as provided in section 42-1107, or to the person he or she has nominated by designation duly executed and filed with the retirement board. Except for payment to an alternative payee pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order, if no legal representative or beneficiary applies for such accumulated contributions within five years following the date of the deceased member's death, the contributions shall be distributed in accordance with the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.

(2) When the deceased member has twenty years or more of creditable service regardless of age or dies on or after his or her sixty-fifth birthday and leaves a surviving spouse who has been designated as beneficiary and who, as of the date of the member's death, is the sole surviving primary beneficiary, such beneficiary may elect, within twelve months after the death of the member, to receive (a) a refund of the member's contribution account balance, including interest, plus an additional one hundred one percent of the member's contribution account balance, including interest, or (b) an annuity which shall be equal to the amount that would have accrued to the member had he or she elected to have the retirement annuity paid as a one-hundred-percent joint and survivor annuity payable as long as either the member or the member's spouse should survive and had the member retired (i) on the date of death if his or her age at death is sixty-five years or more or (ii) at age sixty-five years if his or her age at death is less than sixty-five years.

(3) When the deceased member who was a school employee on or after May 1, 2001, has not less than five years of creditable service and less than twenty years of creditable service and dies before his or her sixty-fifth birthday and leaves a surviving spouse who has been designated in writing as beneficiary and who, as of the date of the member's death, is the sole surviving primary beneficiary, such beneficiary may elect, within twelve months after the death of the member, to receive (a) a refund of the member's contribution account balance with interest plus an additional one hundred one percent of the member's contribution account balance with interest or (b) an annuity payable monthly for the surviving spouse's lifetime which shall be equal to the benefit amount that had accrued to the member at the date of the member's death, commencing when the member would have reached age sixty, or the member's age at death if greater, reduced by three percent for each year payments commence before the member would have reached age sixty-five, and adjusted for payment in the form of a one-hundred-percent joint and survivor annuity.

(4) If the requirements of subsection (2) or (3) of this section are not met, then the beneficiary or the estate, if the member has not filed a statement with the board naming a beneficiary, shall be paid a lump sum equal to all contributions to the fund made by such member plus regular interest, except that commencing on January 1, 2006, an application for benefits under subsection (2) or (3) of this section shall be deemed to have been timely filed if the application is received by the retirement system within twelve months after the date of the death of the member.

(5) Benefits to which a surviving spouse, beneficiary, or estate of a member shall be entitled pursuant to this section shall commence immediately upon the death of such member.

(6) A lump-sum death benefit paid to the member's beneficiary, other than the member's estate, that is an eligible distribution may be distributed in the form of a direct transfer to a retirement plan eligible to receive such transfer under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

(7) For any member whose death occurs on or after January 1, 2007, while performing qualified military service as defined in section 414(u) of the Internal Revenue Code, the member's beneficiary shall be entitled to any additional death benefit that would have been provided, other than the accrual of any benefit relating to the period of qualified military service. The additional death benefit shall be determined as if the member had returned to employment with the employer and such employment had terminated on the date of the member's death.

Source:Laws 1945, c. 219, § 29, p. 648; R.S.Supp.,1947, § 79-2929; Laws 1949, c. 256, § 462, p. 850; Laws 1951, c. 293, § 3, p. 972; Laws 1969, c. 735, § 8, p. 2781; Laws 1975, LB 50, § 5; Laws 1976, LB 645, § 1; Laws 1981, LB 128, § 1; Laws 1986, LB 325, § 9; Laws 1987, LB 549, § 10; Laws 1988, LB 1170, § 5; Laws 1990, LB 903, § 1; Laws 1994, LB 833, § 32; R.S.1943, (1994), § 79-1528; Laws 1996, LB 900, § 591; Laws 1996, LB 1273, § 25; Laws 2000, LB 1192, § 16; Laws 2001, LB 711, § 4; Laws 2003, LB 451, § 20; Laws 2007, LB508, § 2; Laws 2012, LB916, § 23; Laws 2013, LB263, § 18.

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