Choosing and Changing Your Beneficiaries

For Retirees and for Members at Retirement 

If something happens to you, the payout of your NC pension plan, NC 401(k) and/or NC 457 Plans and any other benefit is governed by the beneficiary designation on file with each different plan provider. In most cases, payouts are not made based on the relationship to the deceased member at the time of death. 

At retirement you will have the opportunity to select beneficiaries for several retirement benefits. 

If you select a Survivor Beneficiary for your retirement benefit (Option 2, 3, 6-2 or 6-3), you cannot change your selected payment option (or the beneficiary you designate for this option) after the first regular payday or first recorded payment (whichever is later) except under one of the following two conditions:

  • If you select an option that provides a monthly benefit to your spouse as a beneficiary after your death (Option 2, 3, 6-2 or 6-3) and later become divorced from that spouse, or
  • If you are rehired in a position covered by the same system from which you retired and contribute to your new account for at least three years. 

For more information about the different retirement benefit payment options, see the Retirement Benefit Payment Options page. 

Understanding Your Beneficiary Options

This video describes the types of beneficiaries you can select and things to consider when you select a beneficiary for your retirement benefits.

Understanding Your Beneficiary Options

Types of Beneficiaries

A principal beneficiary will be the first person or people that you select to receive a benefit payment after your death. You may choose one or multiple principal beneficiaries. A contingent beneficiary will be the person or people who will be paid only if all of the principal beneficiaries are deceased at the time of your death. You do not have to select any contingent beneficiaries, but if you do, you must select a principal beneficiary.

You have the option to designate:

  • a living person.
  • more than one living person to share the benefit equally.
  • your estate.
  • a trustee for a living person.

Here are some guidelines you should follow when selecting beneficiaries:

  • You must choose at least one principal beneficiary. Although there is no limit to the number of principal and contingent beneficiaries you may choose, you must choose at least one principal beneficiary before a contingent can be chosen.
  • You may not assign percentages if you have multiple beneficiaries. The benefit will be divided equally among the beneficiaries.
  • Your beneficiary(ies) cannot be an unborn child, a pet, a church, or institution.
  • You don’t need permission from the beneficiary(ies) to make or change the designation; however, if a court order directs you to designate someone as a beneficiary, you must comply with the order.
  • You don’t have to make your beneficiary(ies) aware of this designation.
  • You don’t have to name relatives as beneficiary(ies).
  • You may change beneficiaries for many of your retirement benefits in ORBIT. Log in and select Maintain Beneficiaries in the left navigation.

Selecting Beneficiaries During the Online Retirement Process

  • For the Survivor's Alternate Benefit, you need to:
    • Send proof of Social Security Number for the Survivor Beneficiary.
  • For the Death, Guaranteed Refund and Contributory Death Benefits, you need to:
    • Enter the Social Security Number on the appropriate screen, but do not have to provide proof for the beneficiary.