Women and Retirement

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I have posted many articles about retirement, but here are issues that may have special relevance to women and retirement (although men should also pay attention).  The basic principles still apply: plan for your own retirement, start saving early, save extra, and don’t avoid all risky investments (that is stocks that tends over time to grow more).

Pensions and Survivor Benefits

There are several additional things women should know in retirement.  Know what benefits you are due from your husband’s retirement benefits.  Widow(er)s may be due a survivor benefit from their partner’s pension.  Pensions from businesses are becoming rarer as companies shift benefits from employees to officers and shareholders, but are still common in the military, government, and some major corporations.  Pensions pay a survivor pension after the partner’s death, but results in a lower pension while alive.   If pensions offer survivor benefits, they usually enable the pensioner to choose to elect it or not.  Often the spouse must agree in writing if it is given up.

Remember that, on average, women live five years longer than men, so compare the age difference between the partner due the pension and the spouse potentially due a survivor pension.  Generally, only give up the survivor pension if the spouse due the retirement pension is significantly younger and more likely to outlive the person potentially due the survivor benefit.  Sometimes, couples agree to forego the survivor pension and replace it with life insurance, but consider that the survivor is giving up guaranteed income for life for a pot of money that will need to be managed to last for an unknown period of time.

Social Security for Spouses

Social Security may pay widows at age 60 if their husband is eligible.  Spouses can generally choose the higher Social Security benefit between their own or their spouse’s.  You are even eligible for SSA benefits from an ex-spouse if you are over age 62, unmarried, and were married at least ten years.  This is true even if your ex is still working, as long as you have been divorced at least two years.  For more information on Social Security, see their website.  Remember that eligibility rules change periodically, so check when your eligibility nears.

About John Kimball

Over the past few decades, I have experienced most of these financial issues with both mistakes and successes. I sure wish someone had told me these things when I was first starting out. So many times I have cried out, "I want a do over!" when I learned a new financial lesson or tip. I aim to pass along to you the financial insights I have gained from experience, reading, analysis, and living the financial aspects of managing, saving, investing, and spending your money. I am an analyst with a large organization and happily married with two children on their way to an expensive college, no doubt. I read numerous financial blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and books to bring you the latest news, insights, tips, and lessons combined with decades of experience.

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