A woman who served as a State medical department employee in India lived with her partner, but never married him. She appeared in court after her pension was not approved because state officials say that she could not claim her pension as a single mother while living with a partner.
During the course of her relationship with her boyfriend, she gave birth to their daughter in 1984 and their son in 1994. The family lived together until the children became adults. Upon retiring in 2022, she applied for her pension and was denied because she stated that she was an unmarried, single mother. State officials called her statement “absurd,” according to Bar and Bench.
The issue centers around the woman’s legal right to receive pension benefits as a single mother while having a live-in partner that she never marries. The definitive factors remain murky because of Indian cultural standards that influence a woman’s marital standing. In the US, pension benefits are determined at the payees discretion when they sign the contract.
According to Kristyn Carmichael of kr*****@co********************.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Couples Solution Center, a pension is a retirement account that pays out a monthly amount. This monthly amount can be determined by a number of factors including life expectancy, time with the employer, position at the company, income, and more. One of the main factors that must be determined at the time one starts receiving their pension is a beneficiary. The beneficiary is the person who would receive the pension benefits if you were to pass away.
If you don’t have a beneficiary, the monthly amount of the pension will be higher because it is only paying out for your life span – not for anyone else. Since the choice of a beneficiary effects the monthly amount, it typically must be chosen at the time of receiving the pension and cannot be changed in the future.
“The marital status of a person can impact their ability to make decisions on their beneficiary for their pension, directly effecting their monthly pension amounts,” Carmichael advises. “There is often an assumption that this beneficiary will be your spouse, and your spouse may even need to sign off agreeing to your beneficiary selection. Without the beneficiary designation selected or rejected, this could impact the ability for the pension to be paid out.”
A recent study determined that over the past 50 years, working women have increased their incomes and savings. Increased income earned by single women has led to larger pension payouts during retirement. This larger pension places single women at an advantage over married women because, over time, their husbands have been earning less.
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