Q:

What pension benefits are available to widows?

A:

Quick Answer

A widow can receive between 71 1/2 to 100 percent of her deceased husband's Social Security benefit, depending on when she begins taking Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. A low-income, unremarried widow of a deceased veteran with wartime service might also be eligible for a Veterans Survivors Pension benefit. A widow is also generally eligible to receive at least 50 percent of her deceased husband's private pension from a qualified pension plan.

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Full Answer

A widow can receive 100 percent of her deceased husband's Social Security benefit if she begins collecting it on or after her full retirement age. A widow who begins receiving Social Security from age 60 up to her full retirement age is entitled to a reduced benefit based on her age, ranging from 71 1/2 percent to 99 percent of her deceased husband's benefit. A disabled widow who is between the ages of 50 and 59 can receive 71 1/2 percent of her husband's benefit. A widow who is caring for a child under the age of 16 or a disabled child under the age of 18 is entitled to 75 percent of her husband's benefit.

A widow of a deceased veteran might be eligible for a Survivor's Pension if the veteran received an honorable discharge; served at least one day during a wartime period and enlisted on or before September 7, 1980 and served at least 90 days; or who enlisted after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months. The amount of the pension is determined by Congress and based on family income.

Unless a widow signed a statement giving up her right to her husband's benefit from a private pension plan, she is most likely eligible for at least 50 percent of her deceased husband's benefit under the Employee

Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA.

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