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50% Joint and Survivor Retirement/Annuity

Discussion in 'Life Insurance, Annuities & Other' started by Susan4675, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. Susan4675

    Susan4675 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Oklahoma
    I retired at age 56 in 2006. I was eligible for a small pension at that time. This was presented to me:

    *************************************************************************************
    (This is verbatim from my Employee Handbook)

    LEVEL INCOME BENEFIT OPTIONS:

    These optional benefit payment methods are designed to keep your income level during
    your retirement years.

    Under these two options, you receive a higher benefit payment until you are eligible
    to begin receiving Social Security benefits (at age 62). One you attain age 62, your
    plan benefit will be reduced by the Social Security amount the Plan estimated you
    would receive at age 62 and used in calculation of your benefit from the Plan. Your two
    benefit payment options are: (NOTE-my Social Security estimate would have been HIGHER

    than $1055.03)

    1. LIFE-ONLY BENEFIT OPTION --- payments are made to you during your lifetime only. No
    benefits will be paid after your death


    2. 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR OPTION --- a benefit amount is paid to you until you reach
    age 62. At that time,your benefit amount is reduced by the previously calculated
    age 62 Social Security benefit (mine would have been higher than $1055.03). Upon your death, your spouse will receive a benefit amount which is 50% (fifty percent) of your applicable benefit, based on your age.

    ****************************************************************************************

    The options below are from the written estimate of benefits I received at retirement (see file attached)... from which I could choose...there were a total of 12 options like Straight Life, 100% Joint and Survivor, etc)...there were two options labled "LEVEL INCOME 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR". I chose the top one below, "LEVEL INCOME 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR < 62".

    Participant Spouse/Survivor
    LEVEL INCOME 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR < 62 $1055.03 $527.51 (I chose this option)
    LEVEL INCOME 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR >= 62 $0.00 $0.00

    So, I opted for "LEVEL INCOME 50% JOINT AND SURVIVOR < 62", and received
    payments of $1055.03 per month between 2006 and my 62nd birthday in 2012. At that time, the payment stopped, as expected.

    The question is: If I were to die at age 70, what benefit (if any) would my spouse receive?

    Thank you,
    Susan
     

    Attached Files:

  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    My guess: $527.51.

    But you'd be better off asking the question of the pension administrator.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    Honestly this is one to ask your HR department at your prior employer to clarify. What you really need is the plan language/document and then clarification from those that work with the plan consistently. However, based on what you have written, yes, I would expect him to receive the 50% J&S payments unless somewhere else it states that it is somehow/also integrated with SS.
     
  4. Susan4675

    Susan4675 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I did ask the administrator. Here was the answer:

    "On your quote it tells you clearly that your pre-62 retiree benefits are and the line below what you circled are the benefits for that option as soon as you turn 62 when the estimated social security amount reduces the monthly payment (shown as Social Security PIA). Per your screen shot, based on your age 62+ your applicable benefit is $0 and 50% of your applicable benefit is also $0. "


    The administrator says it is very clear. It does not seem that clear to me. You answers suggest that it might not be that clear to most people.

    Attached is the actual election form.

    Thank you.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  5. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    sounds like they are saying because you hit 62 and your SS is higher than your pension payment (therefore it being $0) that your survivor benefits would also be $0 because your spouse can get the higher of his or your SS survivor benefits which they know is higher than the $1055.03? That's what I was unsure about

    You'd probably need to take all your paperwork to an attorney familiar with pensions and SS....that might be tough and won't be cheap. You would also need to take the plan document. In the end even if the communications were incorrect, the thing that rules an ERISA pension plan is the plan document.

    or if you want to try a benefits board where there are more benefit gurus, try posting on benefitslink.com -- you might find a pension expert willing to help explain it better...but they may also say you have to look to the plan document (I was on the 401k retirement plan side for a while so I know only enough to be dangerous)
     

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