Retirement Finances: The Importance of Strategy for Couples - Forbes; SCL

Married couples will inevitably face a situation where one outlives the other. That’s a simple reality of life, and this reality produces survival circumstances that vary between widows and widowers. These circumstances can be financial, others can be emotional, but in either case careful planning can help diminish the impact on the survivor. Forbes Contributor Steve Vernon, in a post on, examines key aspects of how survivors deal with widowhood, offering insights into steps that can be taken to deal with the aftermath.

From a financial standpoint, Vernon’s article suggests paying close attention to filing strategies for Social Security benefits to ensure continuation of maximum payouts for the survivor, along with strategies for continuity in pension benefits where available. He also discusses approaches to managing draw-down of deferred compensation balances, along with the importance of giving due consideration to strategies to preserve assets in situations where the survivor encounters extraordinary health care expenses. As Vernon observes, careful attention to these suggestions ” … can go a long way to building financial security for a married couple while they are both alive, and also for the surviving spouse, whether that’s a man or a woman.”

On the emotional side of the ledger, Vernon’s article outlines the importance of planning a “social portfolio” for partners to ensure that an emotional support system will be in place when needed, as well as giving thought to developing, in advance, a “new identity” for oneself for the eventual widowhood. His article draws on information in a recent Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL) report published in The Journal of the Economics of Ageing. Vernon summarizes this section of his post with this comment: “Retirees would do well to put as much time and effort into nurturing their social portfolio as they do when building their financial portfolio.”

Read Steve Vernon’s post here, and check out the SCL report here…


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