Surviving Spouse’s Pensions
There are two benefits available under the Plan that apply to the surviving spouse of a participant. The Married Couple benefit may be waived by the retiring participant with the consent of the spouse. The other benefit, the Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Pension, is automatic.
56. What are the requirements for my spouse to be considered an “eligible spouse”?
An eligible spouse is a spouse who is lawfully married to you for at least one (1) year up to the start of your pension (he or she need not be married to you at the time of your death).
“Spouse” shall mean the person recognized as your husband or wife under the laws of the State in which you live. For purposes of defining the term “spouse” for participants married to the same sex, spouse shall mean the person recognized as your husband or wife in which the marriage ceremony occurred.
POST-RETIREMENT SURVIVING SPOUSE’S PENSION
(may be waived by you and your spouse)
The Married Couple Form of pension is the standard form of pension for all married participants who apply for a Normal, Unreduced Early, Disability or Early Pension benefit.
Normal, Unreduced Early and Early Pension
If you have more than 15 years of Credited Service, pension benefits are payable for life with 120 payments guaranteed, except that if you were married to the same spouse for at least one year on your Normal, Unreduced Early or Early Retirement date, your pension will be payable as a 50% Joint and Survivor Pension with 120 payments guaranteed. If you have less than 15 years of Credited Service, pension benefits are payable for life except that if you were married to the same spouse for at least one year on your Normal, Unreduced Early or Early Retirement date, your pension will be payable on a 50% Joint and Survivor Pension. In either case, you will be given an opportunity when you file your retirement application form to make your election. Unless you and your spouse elect not to take the Married Couple form, your monthly benefit will be reduced by a factor determined by your age and your spouse’s age at retirement date. However, the actuarial equivalent reduction shall not be applied to benefit payments as long as you are alive.
If you are eligible for a disability pension, your pension is payable for life, except that if you were married on your Disability Retirement date for at least one year, your pension will be payable on a 50% Joint and Survivor basis with your spouse, unless you and your spouse elect not to take a Joint and Survivor Pension. If you die before the 120th monthly pension installment then your beneficiary will receive a reduced benefit until a total of 120 monthly payments have been made to you and your beneficiary.
You retired in 2013 at age 65 with a wife age 62, and have over 35 years of service. If you and your spouse elected not to take the Married Couple form of Annuity, your monthly pension would be $51.00 per year of credited service prior to 2008 (unless vested at a lower rate) and 1% of Pension Fund contributions for all years up to 2013 so long as you worked at least 100 hours in the year. To continue our example, assume your benefit is $1,800 per month payable for your lifetime with 120-payments guaranteed. This means that if you die before 120 monthly payments have been made, your beneficiary (who may or may not be your wife) will receive the balance of payments, until a total of 120 payments in all have been made. If your wife was designated as the beneficiary to receive the remainder of the 120 monthly pension installments then she shall also receive the widow’s benefit.
However, if you chose the Married Couple Form of Annuity, your monthly pension would be $1,800.00 which would be payable to you for your lifetime. If you die before 120 monthly payments have been made, your spouse will receive the balance of the 120 monthly payments on an actuarially reduced basis ($1,720.80). Beginning with the 121st payment, her benefit would be reduced by 50% of this amount, or $860.40, would be payable to your wife for her lifetime.
The reductions apply to only the age combinations used in this example. In all cases, you should check with the Fund Office for the exact reductions for your situation.
58. How do we choose not to receive my benefit in the Married Couple form?
When you are applying for your pension, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to choose whether or not you will receive your benefit in the Married Couple form. You and your eligible spouse will have a period of at least 30 days in length to make up your minds regarding how the benefit is to be paid.
Both you and your eligible spouse must elect not to receive your benefit in the Married Couple form in order for it to be paid as a straight life annuity with 120 months guaranteed. Your spouse’s agreement to this waiver must be notarized and made during the 180-day period ending with the effective date of your pension.
NOTE: Such an election may not be filed or revoked after your pension has started.
59. What is the widow’s benefit?
If you have at least 15 years of Credited Service, waived the married couple form and designated your spouse as the death beneficiary to receive the remainder of the 120 monthly pension payments then your spouse will receive 50% of the monthly benefit payable for 60 months beginning with the month following the 120th monthly payment or the month following the last payment due prior to the participant’s death if later.
60. How can I learn more about the Married Couple form of pension?
When you are considering retirement, contact the Fund Office at least 30 days prior to the effective date of your pension and the Fund Office will provide you and your spouse with a written explanation of:
- the terms and conditions of the Married Couple form;
- your right to waive the Married Couple form and the effect of such waiver;
- your spouse’s rights with respect to your choice of pension; and
- your right to revoke a previous election to waive the Married Couple form and the effect of such a revocation.
PRE-RETIREMENT SURVIVING SPOUSE’S PENSION
AND PRE-RETIREMENT DEATH BENEFIT
61. How does the Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse Pension work?
To be eligible for a Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse’s Pension you must meet each of the following requirements:
- you must have at least 5 years of Credited Service;
- you must have a surviving spouse to whom you were married to for at least twelve months prior to the date of death.
If you meet the above requirements and are over age 55 with at least 10 years of Credited Service, the amount of benefit payable to your spouse will be the retirement benefit payable to you, computed as if you had retired on the day before your death under the Married Couple benefit. If you meet the above requirements and are under age 55 with at least 10 years of Credited Service, this benefit will be payable when you would have attained age 55. If you have less than 10 years of service, the benefit will be paid at age 65. If you had less than 15 years of service, the benefit is immediately reduced by 50%. However, if you had 15 or more years of service, the benefit will be reduced by 50% beginning with the 121st monthly payment.
An employee age 55 with over 35 years of service dies leaving a surviving wife age 52. He was married for over one year and had an accrued pension benefit of $1,800.00. The Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse’s Pension would be computed as follows:
|Employees’ Accrued Benefit at Date of Death||$1,800.00|
|Reduction for Early Age 55
(3/8ths x 24 Months to Age 57 = 9.0%)
|Benefit if he had Retired on Date of Death||1,638.00|
|10-Year Certain, 50% Joint and Survivor Benefit
(Husband age 55 – Wife age 52 = 95.8%)
This amount is payable for 120 months to the wife. If she survives, 50% of this amount, or $784.60 is payable for her lifetime beginning with the 121st payment.
If the wife dies before 120 monthly payments are made, the beneficiary receives the balance of monthly payments up to 120 payments.
62. How does the Pre-Retirement Death Benefit work?
If you have 10 or more years of service and die before retirement, your beneficiary will receive a monthly benefit for 120 months commencing with the month following your death. Such monthly benefit will be based on your years of service computed as though you had attained Normal Retirement Age 65, and then reduced by 3/8ths of 1% for each month that you are younger than 57, subject to a maximum reduction of 22 ½%.
This death benefit will not be payable if a Pre-Retirement Surviving Spouse’s Pension is payable.
In lieu of the 120 monthly installments your beneficiary may elect to have the benefit paid in a life annuity.