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This page has not been translated. Please go to's Spanish home page for more information available in Spanish.

Esta página no ha sido traducida. Por favor vaya a la página principal del sitio de español de PBGC para ver información disponible en español.

Name Your PBGC Beneficiary FAQs

It depends. If you elect a joint-and-survivor annuity, you can designate only one person as survivor beneficiary. If you elect a certain-and-continuous annuity, you can designate more than one survivor beneficiary. 

You can designate more than one person as beneficiary for money owed you at death.

Yes. You get to decide the percentage that each one receives.

Yes. You can designate one or several organizations, such as a trust or a church.

No. You must designate a beneficiary on a PBGC form. We cannot recognize someone named in a will or other probate documents as your beneficiary. (If you designated a beneficiary with your pension plan before PBGC took responsibility, PBGC will honor that designation.)

No. Once you start to receive payments from a joint-and-survivor annuity, you cannot change the beneficiary. 

No. You cannot change the survivor beneficiary of a joint-and-survivor annuity after you start receiving payments. 

Yes. After benefit recipients die, PBGC sometimes finds that we owe them money for missed checks or underpayments. You need to have a beneficiary on file to make sure that this money gets to the person you want to have it. You can also designate your favorite charity or a religious institution as your beneficiary.

Unfortunately, no one. Under federal law, only a surviving spouse is entitled to ongoing survivor benefits when an individual dies before starting payments. However, if you were entitled to a small lump sum (generally under $5,000), your designated beneficiary gets that lump sum. If you were not married, no survivor benefits are payable. 

Yes, you may change your beneficiary as often as you like.

You cannot designate a new survivor beneficiary of a joint-and-survivor annuity after you start receiving payments.  However, you can name a new beneficiary for money owed you at death.

No. Your annuity will pay you for the rest of your life. But because it guaranteed five years of payments and you have already received payments for seven years, payments will end at your death.

Yes. With a certain-and-continuous annuity you can change beneficiaries even after you start to receive payments.  However, if you were married when you started payments, your spouse must give written, notarized consent to any change in beneficiary.

Yes. PBGC pays estimated pension benefits until we can calculate final benefit amounts. This typically takes several years. We sometimes find that final benefit amounts are greater than estimated amounts and that we owe people money. It’s important to have a beneficiary designation on file so that any money we owe you goes to the person you want. If you like, you can designate your favorite charity or a religious institution as your beneficiary.

If you do not name anyone, or if your beneficiary dies and you don’t name another, PBGC pays the money owed to you in this order to: your spouse, your children, your parents, your estate and your next of kin. PBGC will attempt to locate these persons, but that can be challenging without a beneficiary designation on file.

Last Updated: October 19, 2022