Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is reviving a women's pension bill put on hold after Sept. 11.
The Women's Pension Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Kennedy and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, would require all defined contribution retirement plans to offer a joint and survivor annuity or a stream of payments paid over the lives of the participant or the surviving spouse. Participants also could choose to have surviving spouses receive at least 75% of the value of the payment to the participant. Under current law, surviving spouses can receive at least 50% of the value paid to the participant.
Participants interested in withdrawing all of their money out of the retirement plans as a lump sum would need to get written permission from spouses. This provision would not, however, apply to loans, hardship withdrawals or rollovers to other plans.
The bill "recognizes the economic partnership of marriage, ensuring that women are included in financial decisions that affect their future," Mr. Kennedy said in a statement.
Employer groups succeeded in killing a similar "spousal consent" provision introduced by former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., in the mid-1990s and are gearing up to do battle again. "It is a very significant administrative undertaking," said a lobbyist, who did not wish to be identified, who represents employers.