Survivor Benefits

Survivor Benefits Overview

There are three types of monthly benefits available to your qualified survivors. The amount payable to qualified survivors depends on specific eligibility requirements. They are:

  1. Dependent-based benefit,
  2. Service-based benefit, and
  3. Retirement-based benefit.

The defined benefit and defined contribution portions of the account are combined to fund the benefit for all of the benefit types below.

Dependent-Based Benefit

The dependent-based benefit is payable to qualified survivors when the member dies after meeting the following member requirements:

Existing member as of June 30, 2013

  • Has 1.50 years of qualifying service credit before death; and
  • Earned a quarter of a year of service credit within the 30-month period preceding death; or was receiving a disability benefit at the time of death; or received a disability benefit within the last 12 months and was contributing to STRS Ohio at the time of death.
  • Provided the account has not been withdrawn, eligibility for dependent-based monthly benefits for qualified survivors continues for up to 27 months following the member’s last contributing service.

New Member on or after July 1, 2013

  • Has 5.00 years of qualifying service credit before death; and
  • Date of death is no more than one year from last date of service; or was receiving a disability benefit at the time of death; or received a disability benefit within the last 12 months and was contributing to STRS Ohio at the time of death.
  • Provided the account has not been withdrawn, eligibility for dependent-based monthly benefits for qualified survivors continues for up to 12 months following the member’s last contributing service.

The defined benefit and defined contribution portions of the account are combined to fund the benefit.

Monthly survivor benefits are determined according to the number of qualified survivors. These benefits are payable as a percentage of final average salary (FAS), which is the average of the member’s five highest fiscal years of earnings, regardless of when they occur.

The percentages are as follows:
Number of Qualified Survivors Percentage of Final Average Salary
1 25%
2 40%
3 50%
4 55%
5 or more 60%

If contributions were made for less than the FAS period, total compensation is divided by the total number of years of service in the member’s account to calculate the FAS.

The surviving spouse receives 25% of the FAS and the balance of the total survivor benefit is divided equally among the remaining qualified survivors. If there is no surviving spouse, the benefit is divided equally among the qualified survivors.

Service-Based Benefit

The service-based benefit is payable to qualified survivors when the member dies after meeting the following member requirements:

Existing member as of June 30, 2013

  • Has 20 or more years of service credit before death; and
  • Earned a quarter of a year of service credit within the 30-month period preceding death; or was receiving a disability benefit at the time of death; or received a disability benefit within the last 12 months and was contributing to STRS Ohio at the time of death.
  • Provided the account has not been withdrawn, eligibility for service-based monthly benefits for qualified survivors continues for up to 27 months following the member’s last contributing service.

New member on or after July 1, 2013

  • Has 20 or more years of service credit before death; and
  • Date of death is no more than one year from the last date of service; or was receiving a disability benefit at the time of death; or received a disability benefit within the last 12 months and was contributing to STRS Ohio at the time of death.
  • Provided the account has not been withdrawn, eligibility for service-based monthly benefits for qualified survivors continues for up to 12 months following the member’s last contributing service.

The defined benefit and defined contribution portions of the account are combined to fund the benefit.

Monthly survivor benefits are determined according to the number of years of service credit. These benefits are payable as a percentage of final average salary (FAS), which is the average of the member’s five highest fiscal years of earnings, regardless of when they occur.

The percentage of final average salary per years of service are as follows:
Years of Service Percentage of Final Average Salary
20 29%
21 33%
22 37%
23 41%
24 45%
25 48%
26 51%
27 54%
28 57%
29 or more 60%
The spouse’s share per number of qualified survivors of the above service-based benefit is as follows:
Number of Qualified Survivors Percentage of Final Average Salary
1 100%
2 62.5%
3 50%
4 45.45%
5 or more 41.67%

The remaining benefit is divided equally among all qualified survivors.

Retirement-Based Benefit

The retirement-based benefit is payable to a surviving spouse or a designated financially dependent beneficiary if the member dies before retirement but after meeting retirement eligibility of the Defined Benefit Plan. The defined benefit and defined contribution portions of the account are combined to fund this benefit.

Service retirement eligibility for the Defined Benefit Plan is:

Unreduced Benefit for Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 32 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.**
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 33 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.**
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 34 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.**
8/1/2023–7/1/2026 Any age and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.**
On or after 8/1/2026 Age 60 and 35 yrs.; or age 65 and 5 yrs.**
Actuarially Reduced Benefit* for Retirement Dates Minimum Age and Years of Service
8/1/2017–7/1/2019 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 27 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.**
8/1/2019–7/1/2021 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 28 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.**
8/1/2021–7/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 55 and 29 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.**
On or after 8/1/2023 Any age and 30 yrs.; or age 60 and 5 yrs.**

*An actuarially reduced benefit reflects a reduction for each year that a member retires before meeting eligibility for an unreduced benefit.

**Must have 5.00 years of qualifying service credit, which includes: earned credit with STRS Ohio, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) or School Employees Retirement System (SERS); restoration of withdrawn credit with STRS Ohio, OPERS or SERS; interrupted Ohio public service due to military service; and earned credit that transfers from Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Highway Patrol Retirement System or Cincinnati Retirement System.

There is no time restriction to apply for this benefit; however, some benefits will be lost if the application is received more than 12 months after the date of the member's death. If a member stops contributing and dies after meeting eligibility, a retirement-based benefit is payable to a qualified survivor.

If a member had between 29.01 and 30 years of service credit at the time of death, a benefit before Aug 1, 2015, may be calculated based on 30 years of credit.

The primary beneficiary may withdraw the deceased member’s account in lieu of receiving monthly benefits.