How to Claim My Deceased Husband's Retirement

Written by kay miranda
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Preparing for your life after your husband has passed involves more than dealing with the emotions of losing your life partner. You must address financial considerations. Filing spousal claims to both retirement savings and Social Security benefits will help make sure you have the income required to sustain you from hereon. Social Security has a different process than employer retirement plans or IRA accounts.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Husband's Social Security Number
  • Retirement plan statement
  • Death certificate

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    Retirement Plans

  1. 1

    Call the retirement plan administrator at the number located on your husband's statement. You may have more than one retirement plan to call, such as an IRA, 401k or 403b plan. The process is the same for each one.

  2. 2

    Provide the representative with your husband's account information, explaining that he died and you need to make a death claim.

  3. 3

    Obtain the death benefits form from the custodian and review your options. You may want to discuss the situation with a tax adviser if you are concerned with tax implications of taking distributions. Money you take out of tax-deferred retirement plans is added to your income, so you may want to select one of the other options.

  4. 4

    Complete the paperwork, choosing the best option for you. As a surviving spouse you may continue the retirement savings plan as your own IRA, take a lump sum distribution, take distributions over five years or roll the funds into a beneficiary IRA. Your choice is irrevocable.

  5. 5

    Submit the paperwork to the administrator with an original death certificate. A copy is not suitable. Original death certificates are available at the county records office or through the morgue.

  6. 6

    Wait for confirmation or distribution from the administrator. It make take up to a week to process paperwork, perhaps longer if you are rolling the account over.

    Social Security Claim

  1. 1

    Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. Explain that you are seeking widow benefits and provide your husband's Social Security Number.

  2. 2

    Confirm that you are eligible. You must be at least 60 years of age to get widow's benefits unless you are disabled; the eligibility age drops to 50 for disabled widows. Widows with children under the age of 16 are also eligible for benefits regardless of personal age.

  3. 3

    Send an original death certificate along with checking information where the payments should go. You can meet with a representative in person if you have a Social Security Administration office near you.

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