Can a Widow Receive Pensions From Two Deceased Husbands?

by Shannon Webster ; Updated July 27, 2017
A widow may be eligible for pension benefits from two husbands under certain circumstances.

Pension plans are designed to provide a retirement fund to a former worker and his spouse or designated survivor. Some plans specify that a widow cannot collect benefits if she remarries and collects from her new spouse's plan. She may be required to choose the higher of the two benefits, but not both. Read the fine print of your pension plan carefully to clarify whether these rules apply in your case.

Pension Plan

A pension plan is a retirement account funded by an employee and the company he works for. The plan is designed to provide funds during retirement. Pension plans were the norm in the last century, before the shift to 401(k) and personal retirement accounts. A pension plan will designate the length and amount of payments to the retiree and a survivor he designates to receive them after his death. Rules as to whether a widow can receive pensions from two deceased husbands vary, depending on the terms of the specific pension plan.

Twice Widowed?

If you have been widowed twice, the pension plans will state whether they will pay benefits if you remarry while having another pension coming in. Some plans will state that you are entitled only to the higher-value pension. Other plans will allow you to collect from both plans if you were widowed below age 60, similar to how the Social Security Administration manages survivor benefits. Since each plan is different, it is impossible to know exactly whether a widow can receive benefits from two pension plans without reading the fine print. You should read the paperwork thoroughly and contact the plan's administrator to know for certain what your rights and benefits are.

Social Security Rules

The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that a widow may receive benefits from her husband if she has been married at least 10 years and is age 60. She cannot receive survivor benefits if she remarries prior to the age of 60. The SSA allows you to decide at age 62 if you wish to use your new spouse's benefits or your survivor benefits. You may also choose to collect your own social security if it is higher than that of either spouse's benefits.

Exclusion Exemptions

Pension plans build in exemptions into their survivor benefits. In addition to those listed above, they have the option to deny the benefits to someone currently receiving a pension from another spouse. If a person remarries, the pension may refuse payout. Sometimes, a widow will have to choose which plan she wishes to receive, based on which pays out more money. Review the plan to ensure exactly what it includes for the survivor benefits and requirements.

About the Author

Shannon Webster is a professional writer based in Hagerstown, Md. She has worked with the U.S. Air Force and several state governments since beginning her career in 2001. Webster currently serves as a writer with Decoded Science, specializing in cognitive and social sciences.

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