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Pearl T.

My husband and I were married for many years and had several children. Unfortunately, our children experienced various illnesses, so I had to take time off of work. His career flourished as a police detective, while I often had to stay home with the kids. He left us and remarried several years before he died.

I did not know how pensions worked. I did not realize that I could not have access to his pension funds. I only had meager earnings so little that made me eligible for public programs; I eventually applied for social security (which I do not want). The second wife died several years after him, but our family still cannot access the father’s funds. The funds, which I would have been entitled to if he had not worked for a municipality and had taken social security deductions, are now lost forever.

This is a lesson for all first wives, especially those with disabled children: see a lawyer before the husband, or ex-husband dies, to ensure the second spouse does not leave you with nothing.

Also, talk to your congress men and woman, governors, legislators, etc. to tell them that this travesty must end. They must know that it is unfair to the first spouse and the children to lose everything if the man decides to remarry. Many women are left unaware and with no access to a pension, unless he is “generous” and “compassionate” enough to think of his first wife and children.

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