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Workers & Retirees

Designate a Beneficiary


Designating your beneficiary is very important, even if you have not yet begun to receive pension payments. PBGC makes three distinct types of payments to beneficiaries.

  • Survivor benefits. If you chose an annuity form that provides survivor benefits, PBGC will pay them to the person you designated. Please note if you are receiving a joint-and-survivor annuity, you cannot change the beneficiary designation you made when  you applied for benefits.
  • Preretirement survivor benefits. If you are married and die before you begin receiving pension payments, PBGC will pay survivor benefits to your surviving spouse.
  • Unpaid amounts owed to you at the time of your death. If, for example, after your death PBGC discovers that we had been paying you too little each month, we will pay the balance owed plus interest to a beneficiary. If your annuity does not pay survivor benefits, you can still name someone to receive any money we may owe you at the time of your death. You can name more than one individual or organization, such as a church or a trust.

    If you do not make a designation, we will pay what we owe to:
    • your spouse
    • your children
    • your parents
    • your estate, or
    • your next of kin,
    in that order.

If you are eligible to receive, or are receiving, payments as the beneficiary of a deceased plan participant, it is important that you also designate a beneficiary.




  • Request a beneficiary designation form by email. Send your request to, and we’ll send your form right away. In your email, be sure to include your full name; your pension plan name and case number (found at the top left of PBGC’s correspondence with you); and the last four digits of your Social Security number. (Do not email your complete Social Security number.)


  • Call PBGC's Customer Contact Center (1-800-400-7242) to request a beneficiary designation form.
    • For TTY/ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) users, call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to the number above.
    • Remember to have handy your pension plan name and case number (found at the top left of PBGC’s correspondence with you) and your Social Security number, so the customer service representative can help you.