When an employee, retiree or veteran passes away, the surviving spouse, also referred to as a widow if female or widower if male, is entitled to receive any pension benefits the spouse was receiving. To qualify for the pension benefits, a widow must meet certain criteria, which varies by company, Social Security or Veterans Affairs policy. The Retirement Equity Act of 1984 states that the widow's pension benefits can only be given up with her permission in writing.
Amount Of Benefits
Most surviving spouse pensions are 50 per cent of the worker's original pension. Sometimes, a widow receives a yearly three per cent cost of living increase, depending on the contract of the standard pension. However, when the surviving spouse is eligible to receive Social Security benefits, the pension benefits are reduced.
Benefits For Divorced Couples
For divorced couples, a widow may still be entitled to her ex-husband's pension benefits when he dies. A divorced spouse may have received survivor's benefits as part of the divorce settlement. If a widow has a special court order, known as the qualified domestic relations order, she will be eligible to receive her dead ex-husband's pension benefits.
Social Security Pension Benefits
Widows and widowers that receive pension benefits from the government, such as Social Security, may face different circumstances. The amount a surviving spouse receives from a spouse's pension depends on certain factors. If the widow did not pay into Social Security taxes, then the pension from federal, state or local government may be reduced. For Social Security benefits, a widow's benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of the government pension. For instance, a widow that is eligible for a £325 benefit from Social Security will actually receive £65 a month.
VA Pension Benefits
Widows of a deceased wartime veteran are eligible to receive pension benefits as long as the widow does not remarry. Death pensions are need-based benefits for surviving spouses of deceased veterans whose countable income is below a yearly limit set by Congress. The Department of Veterans Affairs pays the difference between the widow's countable income and an annual rate of payment established by Congress. The difference is generally paid to the widow in twelve monthly payments rounded to the nearest dollar.
The Misconception With Remarriage
It is a misconception that every widow must not remarry to receive her deceased husband's pension benefits. The employer or organisation determines the guidelines for pension benefits. Some employers continue to allow a widow who has remarried to receive a survivor's pension for the rest of her life. For example, the Illinois Mutual Retirement Fund only requires that the surviving spouse notify them if she has remarried with her name and address change, if any.