Utilizing life insurance to maximize a pension benefit is a concept that has been around for quite a while. Participants in traditional pension plans typically have two options when it comes to how the benefits will be paid out. First and most importantly it is an irrevocable decision has to be made, once elected you cannot change it. Typically, there are two options, a life only benefit or joint survivor benefit. The life only option pays out the maximum benefit because it is only guaranteeing an income payment tied to one life. A joint and survivor option pays a reduced benefit because it is guaranteeing an income payment until the second person dies. The pension maximization strategy uses a life insurance policy’s death benefit to create an income stream for the surviving spouse should the pensioner pass away first. This allows for the pensioner to take the highest monthly income payment in retirement because the life insurance policy acts as a safety net for the surviving spouse. If the pensioner is not in good health and cannot qualify for life insurance, then electing the joint survivor benefit can become a worthwhile option. There is no cost to apply for a life insurance policy, it is prudent to meet with an experienced life insurance agent who can and see if it makes sense to go with the higher payout and purchase a life insurance policy.
- Higher monthly pension income. By selecting the life only option the pensioner receives a higher monthly income benefit. If the pensioner’s spouse dies first, the pensioner would have the option to cash in the life insurance policy and take the accumulated cash value.
- Opportunity to pass money to beneficiaries. If the pensioner decides to keep the policy in force until death, a remaining death benefit would pass on to the listed beneficiaries.
- Immediate financial protection. The pensioner gains death benefit protection for their spouse or listed beneficiaries, and death benefits are generally income tax free.