Announcement, May 6, 2020
Beneficiary Services – COVID-19 Updates

Original Records

In light of the current Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, the Office of Payroll Administration (OPA) shall temporarily suspend its requirement that beneficiaries submit original records (i.e. Death Certificates, Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary) in order to receive death benefits. Effective immediately, copies of records may be faxed to 212-742-5663, or emailed to BeneficiaryServices@fisa-opa.nyc.gov, and said copies will be treated as originals.  Moreover, OPA shall reserve the right to request original records in the future as a validation measure.

Obtaining Death Certificates

At present, the New York City Department of Health (DOH) continues to process requests for Death Certificates via its online platform. Where applicable, OPA shall continue to require the submission of death certificates and beneficiaries are to be directed to DOH’s website for further information as follows:
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/death-certificates.page

E-Notary

All documents submitted to OPA for processing must contain an appropriate signature and/or notarization where required. Pursuant to New York State Executive Order Number 202.7, OPA will accept documents that have been validly executed by means of electronic notarization during the COVID-19 emergency. To be valid, electronic notarization must be performed utilizing audio-video technology and must meet the following prerequisites:

  • The person seeking the Notary's services, if not personally known to the Notary, must present valid photo ID to the Notary during the video conference;
  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the Notary (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
  • The person must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the State of New York;
  • The person must transmit by fax or electronic means, a legible copy of the signed document directly to the Notary on the same date it was signed;
  • The Notary may notarize the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person; and
  • The Notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution provided the Notary receives such original signed document together with the electronically notarized copy within thirty days after the date of execution.

 

Owed Payments to Deceased Employees

When a City employee dies, the employee's family or beneficiaries may be entitled to certain payments. The family should first contact the employee's agency to see what payments, if any, are due. For the most part, the agency assists the family in providing the necessary forms and instructions for OPA to release the funds. In some situations, the agency may refer the family or other beneficiary to OPA for guidance.

*Note:* The procedure outlined below pertains only to situations where the decedent passes with a will or where there is Court administration. Where there is no will or letters of administration, SCPA §1310 will govern. In this situation, please request the applicable forms for processing the decedent's unclaimed checks from the deceased employee's agency.

Earned Wages

One payment might be for wages earned prior to death. This may be a partial or full payment for the time the employee worked during the pay period in which he or she died. If there is a will, which has been probated, final payment is made to the employee's executor, who must submit:

  • Original Letters Testamentary
  • A copy of the Original death certificate
  • A W-9 Form from the Executor

If there is no will (or there is a will which has not been probated), payments for wages are made to the next of kin, who may not be the deceased employee's designated beneficiaries. If there is court administration, the next of kin must have been designated as the administrator of the estate, who must submit:

  • Original Letters of Administration
  • A copy of the Original death certificate
  • A W-9 Form of the Recipient

Note:If there is no court administration, then the next of kin is entitled to collect payment for wages pursuant to the limitations set forth in the New York Surrogate Court Procedure Act (SCPA) §1310.

Accumulated Time and Leave

Payment for accrued annual leave and compensatory time will be made payable to the beneficiary designated on the Designation of Beneficiary Form on file with the deceased employee's agency.
The beneficiary needs to provide:

  • His or her Social Security number
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • Proof of identity such as a marriage license, birth certificate, passport, or driver's license
  • A W-9 Form of the Recipient

Without a will or a Designation of Beneficiary Form on file with the agency, any leave or compensatory time payments will be distributed according to SCPA §1310 in absence of Letters of Administration. If payments are designated to be made to a minor, the legal parent or guardian must provide court guardianship papers before funds can be released.

Back Pay

If a payment is due for back pay resulting, for instance, from a contractual settlement, the payment will be issued to the estate or next of kin as in the case of final wage payment.

Payment Procedures

For any type of payment, the agency produces a paycheck in the deceased employee's name and sends it to OPA with an Undistributed Check form and Pay Order. OPA issues a replacement check payable to the employee's estate, beneficiary, or next of kin. If the employee dies after a paycheck was issued to him or her but before the check is cashed, the check should be returned to the employee's agency. The agency will forward the check to OPA. A replacement check will be issued to the estate or next of kin.

Other Payments Owed to Deceased Employees

The above payments may not be all to which the family or beneficiaries of a deceased employee are entitled. Death benefits may be available from the employee's pension system, Deferred Compensation Plan, Union, or Management Benefits Fund. The employee's agency can advise the family or beneficiaries which organizations to contact.

Learn more about the Pension Plans
Learn more about the Deferred Compensation Plan
Learn more about the Management Benefits Fund