How much the surviving spouse will receive will depend on when you reach statutory retirement age – Jenny Ross


Our four week government pension is: Myself £193.15; My wife £90.05 – both subject to further additions and subtractions. My question is, should I die first, what proportion of government retirement benefits will my wife be entitled to receive on top of what she is already paid?

Answer: Congratulations on a very special milestone. I am sorry to hear that this was followed by difficult news.

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The evolution of your wife’s legal pension in the event of death depends on the date on which you reached the legal retirement age. As you and your spouse reached the legal retirement age before the introduction of the new legal pension in April 2016, the legal pension you receive – and the inheritance rules that apply – are based on the “old” system.

New rules came into force in 2016 on the proportion of pensions that can be inherited by spouses and civil partners.

The Old State Pension is made up of two parts: the Basic State Pension (worth £141.85 a week in 2022-23) and any additional State Pension you have built up during of your career.

To get the state basic full pension, you need to have 30 “qualifying years” on your national insurance record – in other words, 30 full tax years in which you paid or were considered having paid – National Insurance (NI) contributions. (Under the new system, you need at least 10 qualifying years to qualify for the state pension and 35 qualifying years to get the full amount).

Surviving spouses and civil partners who are not already receiving the full basic state pension can use their deceased partner’s National Insurance record to increase the amount they receive – up to the full amount.

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Ask Jenny Ross: Why Wasn’t I Entitled to Any of My Late Wife’s Hard-Earned Pens…

In your case, this means that if you die first, your wife would be entitled to a higher basic public pension. You say she is currently on around £90 but she could increase that to £141.85 thanks to your full NI case. If she died first, your statutory pension would not change because you are already receiving the full basic amount.

In effect you say you receive more than that (£193.15) meaning you must have accrued an additional state pension. This no longer exists under the new “flat-rate” system, but was a supplement to the basic state pension depending on your income.

Your wife could also inherit part of this amount from you – between 50 and 100%, depending on your date of birth. As you were born before October 5, 1939, 90% of your supplementary pension can be passed on by inheritance. Based on the figures you shared, that would mean your wife would get an extra £46 per week (90% of £51.30). For full confirmation of what your wife would inherit, you can contact the Pensions Service directly by calling 0800 731 0469.

I should point out that the rules for inheriting the state pension changed when the new system was introduced in April 2016, so any readers who reached state pension age after that should bear in mind that inheritance rights are now more limited than in your case.

Under the new rules, it is no longer possible to use your late spouse or civil partner’s NI record to increase your state pension, but if they received more than the full new state pension (185, £15 a week), you may be able to inherit half of that amount (known as a ‘protected payment’).

For anyone who wants to get a better idea of ​​how the state pension inheritance rules might apply to them, the government has a handy tool at through-partner.


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