Also known as Joint Life annuities, Joint and Survivor annuities are intended for and opened by two individuals. In this case, both recipients can expect compensation throughout their lifetime, even if one of them dies. According to the terms and conditions of the contract, the amount of the compensation may decrease if one of the recipients dies. QJSA or Qualified Joint and Survivor annuity rules apply to ‘money purchase’ pension plans, target benefits and defined benefit plans. This annuity pays at one level for entire duration of the primary holder’s life, and between 50-100% of original for duration of the spouse’s life at another level.
Usually, the plan document provides an annuity proportion, but the common prerequisite is that survivor annuity should be 50% to 100% of annuity paid out to the participant. In case the participant is not married, the annuities are over his life expectancy. Furthermore, the participants can opt to surrender the joint and survivor annuities payments and get ad-hoc distributions or lump-sum, provided that the spouse (of participant) agrees to the waiver.
Some Rules for Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity
A ‘joint and survivor annuity’ type is not a qualified one unless the plan allows the participant to begin receiving a delivery in the form of QJSA exactly after he has reached the earliest-retirement-age under the scheme.
A plan can include more than one ‘joint and survivor’ annuity which is in fact equivalent. In this case, the plan must depict which one is qualified.
The law requires that all ‘survivors’ benefit from the plan should be paid out to the spouse, unless one designate different recipients. If you select a recipient other than spouse, then the spouse should agree to this beneficiary designation in writing.
As per the law, unless you select otherwise, the benefits from ‘joint and survivor’ annuities are paid out in the form of ‘single life annuity’. You will get payments on monthly basis for your entire life. But after your death, no payments will be made. Also, you are free to cancel your selection within the duration of ninety days before distributions start.
In case any of survivor benefits are ‘payable’ through benefit payment alternative you have selected, then, you can specify a recipient to get those benefits.
Domestic Partners or Same-Sex Spouses
The plan may allow an individual to specify same sex domestic partner as the recipient of survivor benefits other than survivor annuity part of a QJSA. The payments of survivor benefits to the same sex domestic partners must follow certain rules for benefit payments to any elected recipient, who is not spouse: