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Impact

The new state pension and the position of widows and widowers

This page has been designed for those who reach state pension age after 5th April 2016 and who therefore come under the ‘new’ state pension system. If you come under the old state pension system you can find more information here.

Although the amount that you get under the new state pension is based largely on your own record of National Insurance Contributions, there are provisions in the new system for widows and widowers to inherit state pension based on the contributions of a late spouse (or civil partner).

The purpose of this page is to give you an idea of whether you can expect to inherit anything from a late spouse on top of your own state pension. This information is only for those who married before 6th April 2016 and it assumes that you did not remarry after being widowed.

The information is based on Schedule 3 of the Pensions Act 2014, but is intended for guidance only. If you have any questions about your state pension you should contact the Pensions Service directly.

The amount you can inherit depends on two things:

  • Whether your late spouse came under the old or new state pension system
  • The amount of state pension your late spouse was either receiving (if they were over pension age when they died) or would have received (if they died before pension age).

We set out below first the rules for those whose late spouse came the old system and then the rules for those whose late spouse came under the new system.

If your late spouse came under the old state pension system

(For men who have died this means dates of birth before 6th April 1951 and for women who have died this means dates of birth before 6th April 1953).

If your late spouse came under the old state pension system they will have built up entitlement to “additional” state pension on top of their basic state pension. This comes either from the ‘graduated retirement benefit’ (a scheme which ran in the 1960s and early 1970s) or the state earnings-related pension scheme (SERPS) which ran from 1978. If they lived to reach pension age and drew their pension they would have already started receiving an additional state pension, but even if they died before pension age, they could still have built up some additional pension rights.

You will inherit at least 50% of the additional state pension which your late spouse built up by the time they reached pension age or by the time they died, if earlier. The exact percentage depends on their date of birth (see https://www.gov.uk/additional-state-pension/inheriting)

If your late spouse came under the new state pension system

(For men who have died this means dates of birth after 5th April 1951 and for women who have died this means dates of birth after 5th April 1953).

If your late spouse came under the new state pension system they will potentially have been entitled to the new ‘flat rate’ state pension. The table below shows the rates of the new flat rate pension each year since it was introduced

Year

Weekly new state pension

2016/17 £155.65
2017/18 £159.55
2018/19 £164.35
2019/20 £168.60
2020/21 £175.20
2021/22 £179.60

If your late spouse was receiving (or would have received if they had lived to pension age) the amount shown in the table or less, then there is nothing for you to inherit. Note that this calculation excludes any top-ups for deferring state pension.

However, if your late spouse was receiving more than this flat-rate amount, then the excess is known as a ‘protected payment’ and you can inherit half of this amount.

To give an example, suppose your spouse dies in 2021/22 and is receiving £189.60 in new state pension. This is £10 per week above the standard rate, so there is a ‘protected payment of £10 per week. Your inheritance is half of this amount or £5 per week.

If you think that you should be receiving something but do not believe that this has been done correctly, we would be interested to hear from you via email to steve.webb@lcp.uk.com.

Disclaimer

Information on this webpage does not constitute financial advice or other professional advice, nor a recommendation of a particular course of action.

Lane Clark and Peacock LLP, its officers or employees do not accept any responsibility or liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused by action taken (or a decision not to take action) as a result of information provided by this.

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