How Norris ruling may affect you

Men offered lump-sum benefits under defined contributions plans will generally do better using that money to buy annuities directly from insurance companies. Women, on the other hand, will get a better payout on such annuities through the employers. Pending federal unisex insurance legislation could, however, render this point moot.

Basic pensions (defined-benefits programs) will be unaffected for workers of both sexes. But it will cost women substantially more to provide joint-and-survivor benefit for their husbands, and they will have to take a greater discount in benefits to retire early.

Don't expect dramatic changes right away as a result of the Norris ruling. If , however, the federal unisex insurance legislation is passed with its ''topping up'' provision intact, equalizations of benefits will be achieved by bringing the benefits of the ''disadvantaged'' up to the level of the ''advantaged.''

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