President’s Forum 145 – Protecting Spouse’s Rights to Retirement Benefits


The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) has co-signed a letter with more than a dozen other advocacy organizations to the Internal Revenue Service/Treasury Department’s opposing its proposed rule to eliminate the physical presence requirement for the witnessing of spousal consents to surrender the spouse’s rights to retirement benefits.

The federal government’s proposal would sacrifice critical legal protections for spouses’ (most often a woman) retirement security. The groups signing the letter believe IRS/Treasury needs to strengthen spousal protections applicable to both in-person and, if permitted, remote witnessing of spousal consents.

The Employee Income Retirement Security Act (ERISA) provides that the spouses of retirement plan participants will automatically receive a surviving spouse pension from a traditional defined benefit pension plan and must be the named beneficiary of a 401(k)-style retirement account, unless the spouse provides witnessed, signed consent to give up those rights. This requirement for properly witnessed spousal consent to surrender guaranteed rights to retirement benefits has been a cornerstone of protecting spousal pension rights for nearly four decades and must be retained.

The letter was originated by the National Women’s Law Center and sent to the IRS/Treasury on March 30, 2023. Co-signing the letter in addition to the NRLN were:

  • Alliance for Retired Americans,
  • American Postal Workers Union,
  • Retirees Department,
  • AFL-CIO,
  • Equal Rights Advocates Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network),
  • National Caucus & Center on Black Aging,
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare,
  • National Consumers League,
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline,
  • National Employment Law Project,
  • National Network to End Domestic Violence,
  • National Organization for Women,
  • National Partnership for Women & Families,
  • Social Security Works,
  • Tahirih Justice Center,
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and
  • Women Employed and Women’s Law Project.


If our emails contain information you are not interested in, please simply delete them, do not unsubscribe or you won’t get new information on this de-risking proposal or other information that would be of interest to you. Watch for an Action Alert, we will need your support.  

Watch for a new video on this subject to stream soon. 

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network 

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