Survivor's Benefits Policy

Policy Statement

Duke extends or provides continued benefit coverage to the surviving spouse, registered same-sex spousal equivalent or estate of an eligible staff member who dies while employed by Duke or after retiring from Duke. Duke also offers several voluntary, staff member-paid insurance programs that can help ensure that survivors have adequate financial resources to pay debts and help be financially secure.

Policy Details

Benefits to Survivors of Currently Employed

Duke offers the following benefits to the surviving spouse, registered same-sex spousal equivalent or estate of an eligible staff member who dies while employed by Duke. Duke reserves the right to amend or retract these benefits in the future, or to change its contribution arrangements toward the costs of these benefits.

Dental Insurance

If an employee dies while actively employed or actively working at Duke, his or her covered dependents will be eligible for continuation of dental insurance through Duke based on the employee's eligibility for retiree dental. If the employee had not met the criteria for retiree dental, the surviving family members will be offered dental insurance coverage through COBRA.

Retirement Plans

Faculty and staff are eligible for the Duke Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan. The accumulated funds in the deceased staff member's Faculty/Staff Retirement Plan will be transferred to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated on the original application as amended.

Hourly-paid staff are also eligible for the Employees' Retirement Plan. The Employees' Retirement Plan is a traditional defined benefit pension plan paid for entirely by Duke. Under some conditions, the spouse or registered same-sex spousal equivalent of the deceased staff member may receive income from the Employees' Retirement Plan.

Survivor Benefit or Gratuity

Duke provides a benefit in the event of the death of an eligible staff member. Generally, active, full-time staff who have completed at least one year of full-time service are eligible for this benefit. Duke will pay a gratuity equal to one month's base pay for each full year of continuous service with Duke up to a maximum of six months' salary. The gratuity is given to the spouse if the staff member is married or the registered same-sex spousal equivalent or to the estate if the staff member is single.

The gratuity is intended to help the family in a time of need. Though taxes are not withheld by the University at disbursement, it may be considered taxable income to the recipient by the IRS. A Form 1099 is issued by the University; beneficiaries are encouraged to talk with their tax advisor regarding tax reporting and/or filing related to the benefit amount.

Benefit Time and PTO

Any of the staff member's accrued and unused vacation time, discretionary holidays or Paid Time Off will also be paid out in lump sum, minus applicable taxes, to the estate.

Health Insurance

If an employee dies while actively employed or actively working at Duke, his or her covered dependents will be eligible for continuation of health care benefits through Duke based on the employee's eligibility for retiree health. If the employee had not met the criteria for retiree health, the surviving family members will be offered coverage through COBRA.

Vision Insurance

Family members covered under the vision insurance at the time of death will be offered coverage through COBRA.

Other Insurance

The proceeds of life insurance or Personal Accident Insurance (if death was accidental) carried by the deceased staff member will be paid to the designated beneficiary, beneficiaries, or estate. If the deceased had spousal coverage under the Supplemental Life, Universal Life or Long Term Care Plan, the spouse would be eligible to continue coverage by contacting the insurance vendor directly.

Social Security

The Social Security Administration will make a one-time payment to the estate of eligible individuals upon death. Other benefits to the spouse and dependents of the deceased staff member depend upon the age and relationship of the survivors. Detailed information is available from the Social Security Office.

Travel and Accident Insurance

The estate of a staff member who died accidentally while traveling out-of-town on Duke business receives the proceeds from the Business Travel and Accident Insurance.

Children's Tuition Grant Program

The children of deceased staff who were eligible at the time of death continue to remain eligible for the Duke Children's Tuition Grant Program.

Benefits to Survivors of Retired Staff

Duke offers the following benefits to the surviving spouse or estate of an eligible staff member who dies after retiring from Duke. Duke reserves the right to amend or retract these benefits in the future, or to change its contribution arrangements toward the costs of these benefits.

Dental Insurance

Surviving spouses and dependents of retired staff covered under the dental insurance plan remain eligible to participate. Spouses become ineligible if they remarry; dependents become ineligible if they marry and/or attain age 19, or age 26 if enrolled in school full time. Coverage for handicapped dependents ends at age 26. Same-sex spousal equivalents and their children may continue the dental coverage at their own expense for 36 months after the death of participating staff members.

Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan

Retirement income paid to a surviving spouse and/or other beneficiary(s) depends upon the option selected by the participant at the time of retirement.

Health Insurance

Surviving spouses and dependents of retired staff covered under one of Duke's health care plans remain eligible to participate. Spouses become ineligible if they remarry; dependents become ineligible if they marry and/or attain age 19 or age 26 if enrolled in school full-time. Duke will continue to contribute its portion of the premium, and the surviving spouse and dependents must continue to pay the balance of the premium. Coverage for handicapped dependents ends at age 26. Same-sex spousal equivalents and their children may continue the health coverage at their own expense for 36 months after the death of participating staff members. Arrangements for any changes in coverage should be made through Duke Benefits.

Insurance Certificate

A one-time payment of up to $2,500 will be paid to the surviving spouse or estate of a retired staff member hired prior to December 1, 1974, who received an insurance certificate at retirement by meeting certain eligibility requirements.

In order to be eligible for the insurance certificate, the staff member must have participated in the optional Group Life Insurance Plan of Duke for ten years or longer, and must have retired no earlier than age 65.

Other Insurance

The proceeds of life insurance policies continued after retirement will be paid to the designated beneficiary, beneficiaries, or estate.

If the deceased had spousal or registered same-sex spousal equivalent coverage under the Supplemental Life, Universal Life, Long Term Care, or Personal Casualty Insurance plan, the spouse or registered same-sex spousal equivalent would be eligible to continue coverage by contacting the insurance vendor directly.

Social Security

The amount of payment to be received by a surviving spouse and/or dependents depends upon current regulations. The Social Security Administration should be notified promptly of the death.

Issued Date

July 1, 2006

Last Revised

April 23, 2013
Related Links

Policy types

Benefits Policies

Categories

Benefits Policy