To help address couples’ joint retirement readiness, advisors need to encourage both spouses to be active participants in all financial planning and investment decisions for retirement. This should include a plan to maximize their social security benefits, with a particular eye toward ensuring the surviving spouse receives the highest possible Social Security income, which will increase the likelihood that other assets will last longer in retirement.
A surviving spouse may face financial hardship in many ways: loss of one Social Security paycheck, reduction or elimination of employer-sponsored retiree medical benefits or pension, or increased expenses due to disability and poor health at older age. Careful planning with Social Security, pensions, life insurance, long term care insurance and annuities can help provide couples the financial security and guaranteed income in retirement as long as they both shall live.
1 Retirement Income Reference Book, LIMRA, 2012. LIMRA analysis of the Human Mortality Database, University of California, Berkeley, USA and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany.