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What is Pension Maximization?

When a married employee is retiring with a pension or 401k, they have options as to how they will receive their money.  The following is an example:

(Monthly Figures) 

Retiree Income

Survivor Income





1. Single Life

2. 100% Survivor

The Pension Trap

Most retirees choose number 2: the reduced income "Survivor" Option ($3200/month).

If they die first, pension income continues to their spouse.

The $800 a month they forfeit is essentially a life insurance premium paid to the retirement fund.

This form of life insurance can be costly and gives the retiree less control over their survivor benefit.

*  More income for both lives.
*  If retiree dies first, the spouse pays less income tax.
*  If spouse dies first, the retiree can change the beneficiary without a recalculation in income or
   the retiree can surrender the life insurance policy and receive any money accumulated in it.
*  If both retiree and spouse die about the same time, they can pass on insurance policy benefit to estate or charity.
* Access reserve cash fund for emergencies.

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Pension Maximization Strategy- An Alternative Way to Provide Survivor Income

As an alternative to the survivor option, the retiree could choose number 1: the maximum income "Single Life" Option ($4,000/month). Then with a portion of the savings ($800/month), they purchase a life insurance policy for their survivor.

Here are some of the advantages of choosing the pension maximization strategy that may not be available in a "Survivor" Option: