State Pension Payments After the Death of a Spouse or Life Partner – Inheritance Rules and Eligibility

The State Pension Insurance provides substantial financial support to around 12.4 million people in the UK each month, including 981,399 Scots, and for some is their only source of income during their retirement years.

This recurring payment is made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and is available to those who have reached the UK Government’s eligible retirement age and have paid enough Social Security contributions, which were raised to 66 for both men and women in October 2020 .

Those entitled to the full new State Pension are currently paid £ 179.60 per week, while those on the “old” State Basic Pension (Category A or B) are paid £ 137.60 per week.

The type of state pension a person can claim depends on their date of birth. Men born before April 6, 1951 and women born before April 6, 1953 can claim the state basic pension – those born after that date will be subject to the new state pension rules.

Individuals who are eligible for the new state pension can do so once they have reached their statutory retirement age.

Once someone has reached statutory retirement age, they can defer payments if they want to continue working.

This actually increases the payments when they eventually decide on a claim. In addition, nothing stands in the way of entitlement to a state pension while continuing to work.

But what happens to government pension payments when you, your spouse or partner die?

What happens to your statutory pension when you die?

A state pension doesn’t just end when someone dies, you have to do something about it.

If the person dies, you will need to notify the Pension Service in order for the payments to stop – you can call the Pension Service helpline on 0800 731 0469.

You may be entitled to co-payments from your deceased spouse’s or domestic partner’s state pension.

However, this depends on their social security contributions and when they reached state retirement age.

If you have not reached statutory retirement age, you may also be entitled to death benefits.

Inheritance: State basic pension

Should a spouse or domestic partner have reached the statutory retirement age before April 6, 2016, GOV.UK instructs people to contact the Pension Service after someone dies to see what they can apply for.

They may be able to increase their state basic pension using the credit years of the deceased if they are not already receiving the full amount.

If you have reached statutory retirement age on or after April 6, 2016, or have not reached statutory retirement age upon the death of your spouse or domestic partner, you can use the Your Partner’s National Insurance Record and your State Pension tool on the UK Government website Allow the person to check what inheritance they may be entitled to.

In the case of people who are single, divorced or whose civil partnership has been dissolved, their estate may claim part of a state basic pension.

This is the case if that person dies after reaching the statutory retirement age and only if the state pension has not been drawn. In this case, the estate can claim up to three months of the state basic pension.

Additional money by deferring the state pension

Some people may choose to defer their state pension to build up an additional amount.

In this case, the spouse or partner can either claim the additional state pension or receive a lump sum.

Topping up the state pension

Should someone have topped up their state pension (between October 12, 2015 and April 5, 2017), the spouse or life partner may inherit part or all of the top-up, according to

Legacy: New state pension

A person may be able to inherit an additional payment on top of their new state pension if they are widowed.

However, a person cannot inherit if they remarry or form a new civil partnership before they have reached statutory retirement age.

Heirs to an additional state pension

If a marriage or civil partnership began before April 6, 2016 and any of the following circumstances apply, an individual may inherit part of the deceased partner’s state supplementary pension. These are:

  • The deceased partner reached the statutory retirement age before April 6, 2016
  • You died before April 6, 2016, but would have reached state retirement age on or after that date

Inheriting a protected payment

A person inherits half of their partner’s protected payment if their marriage or civil partnership began before April 6, 2016 and:

  • Your statutory retirement age is on or after April 6, 2016

  • They died on or after April 6, 2016

  • This payment is made with the state pension

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Heirs to an additional state pension or lump sum

A person may inherit part of their partner’s total Supplementary State Pension or lump sum if:

  • They died while they were deferring their state pension or began taking it after it was deferred

  • You reached the statutory retirement age before April 6, 2016

  • They were married or in a civil partnership at the time of their death.

Check your state pension to calculate how much money you are getting on the GOV.UK website here.

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