Study: Spouse's Death Proves Crushing Financial Blow

October 9, 2003 ( - It took an average four to five-year recovery period before the personal finances of widows and widowers returned to what they were before their spouses died, according to a new study.

During that time, MetLife’s study found, many families were required to make significant financial adjustments, including:

  • withdrawing money from retirement accounts, savings accounts, and investments
  • working additional jobs for longer hours
  • moving to smaller, less expensive housing
  • reducing spending on children’s education
  • borrowing money.

Not surprisingly, two-thirds of spouses (65%) reported that the death had a “devastating” or “major” financial impact on their families’ financial security. T wo-thirds of spouses who did receive life insurance benefits got proceeds that were less than three times the annual income of the deceased. One in four beneficiaries received benefits that replaced less than one year of the deceased’s income. More than one third (39%) of surviving spouses received no life insurance proceeds.

MetLife’s Financial Impact of Premature Death study surveyed 1,000 widows and widowers between August 4 and August 19, 2003. Participants had lost a spouse within six months to five years prior to the survey and the deceased was between 30 and 55 years old at the time of death.

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