Which?: Can I claim late husband’s pension? – Gareth Shaw

Q My husband was born in October 1950, and sadly passed away in 2007, before he reached retirement age – even though he paid full National Insurance. I was born in September 1956.
Elderly woman sitting in a cafe, looking at the screen of her laptop, worriedElderly woman sitting in a cafe, looking at the screen of her laptop, worried
Elderly woman sitting in a cafe, looking at the screen of her laptop, worried

Will I be able to claim any of my husband’s state pension when I reach 66?

A Your husband would have collected his state pension back in 2015, when he reached the age of 65. This was a year before some quite radical reforms to the state pension took place, and this is a crucial factor in determining what you might be able to claim for your husband’s pension.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His state pension would have been made up of two distinct payments – his basic state pension, an amount set by the government each year, payable in full if you had 30 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions; and an additional state pension, an earnings-related top-up to the basic state pension.

The following year after your husband would have reached state pension age, this all changed. The government decided to collapse the basic state pension and additional state pension into a single-tier payment, with a much more generous weekly amount. For example, today’s basic state pension is £134.25.

The full amount of the “new” state pension is £175.20, although you could get more or less than this amount depending on your private pension savings and how much additional state pension you’d built up under the old system.

You reach state pension age in September 2022, meaning that you qualify for the new state pension. This applies to anyone who reaches state pension age on or after 6 April 2016.

Before we discuss what you could potentially get from your husband’s record, it’s worth understanding exactly what you could be getting. As mentioned, the “full” amount of the new state pension is currently £175.20 per week.

You need a bigger National Insurance record than your husband did to get this amount – 35 years’ worth of contributions will make you eligible for the full state pension.

And the name is confusing, because you may get more or less than this. If you have made full National Insurance payments, building up additional state pension, you’re likely to get more.

If you “contracted out” of the additional state pension, paying reduced National Insurance contributions for several years in exchange for a higher private pension, you’re likely to get less.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

How much you end up with depends on whichever is the highest – the amount you would have got on the last day of the old system, or the amount you would get had the new system been in place over the whole of your working life.

Now on to your husband’s state pension record. The state pension is not like private savings (a pension or Isa). There is no lump sum for you to collect – when you die, most of your state pension dies with you, even if you never claimed it.

However, you should be able to inherit 50 per cent of the additional state pension your husband had built up. This will be added to your state pension when you collect it.

There is a caveat to this. The government states that “you cannot inherit your spouse or civil partner’s additional state pension if you remarry or form another civil partnership before you reach state pension age”.

So, if you have remarried between 2007 and now, you will have foregone any inheritance from your husband’s state pension record.

Gareth Shaw is the Head of Money at which.co.uk.

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.