Losing your husband may be heartbreaking, and losing the income from his pension may add stress to the situation if you depend on that money. Pensions normally provide for spousal beneficiary payments, but you should determine in advance whether you qualify for this benefit, because, in some instances, you may not.
A pension plan normally offers several options for a beneficiary payment. You typically will receive 50, 75 or 100 percent of your husband's pension payment after he dies. This benefit payment depends on what option he selected when he started receiving his pension payments.
You must submit the beneficiary claim form when your husband dies. This form indicates you want to receive your husband's pension benefit payment. The benefit payment should continue without any interruption in payment, provided that all paperwork is submitted and processed in a timely manner. You should contact the pension administrator soon after your husband's death, because you may need to receive your husband's pension payment the month following his death to continue paying ordinary expenses.
A beneficiary payment is common on pension plans, and it normally pays at least 50 percent of your husband's normal pension plan payment. These payments are made for the rest of your life, and the payment is guaranteed by the pension plan using an annuity contract. An annuity is an insurance policy designed specifically to guarantee payments to you for life.
If your husband did not elect a beneficiary payment when he started his pension plan payments, you won't be eligible for pension benefits from the plan. Nothing can be done after his death to modify the payment plan. When your husband initiated the payments, you would have signed a release form indicating you agreed to waive all future benefits from the pension plan. In this instance, you don't receive any benefits. However, your husband may have purchased a life insurance policy to provide you with some income after his death.
If you are not certain whether your husband carried life insurance, review your husband's finances, including his checking account, to determine whether any checks were written to life insurance companies. Any premium checks paid to a life insurance company indicate a life insurance policy was or is in force. This may provide needed income if you won't receive benefits from his pension plan.