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Pension Income Planning 2021

An employee nearing retirement may face a dilemma when it comes to choosing his or her pension. Pension options from a defined benefit retirement plan generally include a lifetime payment with no survivor benefit, a joint and 50% survivor payment, or a joint and 100% survivor payment.

The joint and survivor benefits are reduced amounts from the lifetime payment option.


If the employee selects the lifetime payment and then dies before the surviving spouse, no monthly pension will be left for the spouse. If the employee selects one of the survivor options, and the spouse dies before the employee dies, the employee will be locked into the lower payout for the rest of his or her life.

The amount of potential loss of income can be devastating to the retired employee or spouse. Emotionally, an employee may be inclined to choose one of the pension options that give an ongoing benefit to his or her surviving spouse. However, this may not be the best financial decision.

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