Estate Planning 101

Notifying the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) After a Loved One’s Passing

September 13, 2023

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Following a loved one's passing, one of the crucial tasks to be handled is notifying pertinent organizations about the death. If the deceased was a member of the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS), you must inform them promptly to prevent overpayments and inquire about any possible survivor benefits.

Who Should Be Notified

The DRS is a state agency that administers retirement benefits for public employees in Washington State. If your loved one was a public employee in Washington and a member of DRS, it's important to notify the department.

When to Notify

You should inform DRS as soon as possible after the death. This helps to prevent any overpayment of benefits and allows for the efficient processing of any potential survivor benefits.

How to Notify

To alert the DRS about a death, you can call them at 1-800-547-6657 or 360-664-7000. You will need to provide the deceased's full name, date of birth, and social security number if available. You may also need to provide a copy of the death certificate.

What to Expect After Notification

Once DRS has been notified, they will stop pension payments and inform you about any potential survivor benefits. If the deceased had chosen a retirement option with survivor benefits, a spouse or other named beneficiary might be eligible to receive these benefits.

DRS may also provide information about any life insurance policies linked to the pension plan.

Tips for Notification

When notifying DRS, ensure you have all the necessary information about the deceased, including their full name, date of birth, social security number, and death certificate. Keep a record of your correspondence with DRS, including the date and time of your call and the name of the representative you speak with. This can be helpful if any issues arise later.

Conclusion

While it's a challenging task, notifying DRS after the passing of a loved one is a vital step. It ensures the smooth handling of their pension account, cessation of benefits, and potential access to survivor benefits. With some preparation and understanding of the process, you can navigate this task successfully.

FAQ

Q: Can I notify DRS online?
A: Currently, there is no online process to report a death to DRS. You must call them.

Q: What if I don't have the deceased's social security number?
A: If you do not have the deceased's social security number, DRS may be able to locate their account with their full name and date of birth.

Q: What if the deceased's pension was overpaid after their death?
A: If DRS continues to make pension payments after the member's death, they will typically request this money back. If you believe an overpayment has occurred, contact DRS as soon as possible.