Will I inherit any state pension from my late police officer husband now I’m 66? Steve Webb replies
I have just turned 66 and I am due to receive my state pension. My late husband and I were police officers and were both in the work scheme.
My husband was born in 1949 and died in 2016. At the time of his death, my husband was in receipt of a full state pension.
Shortly afterwards, I was informed that I would receive a weekly sum (£45) of his state pension when I became of pensionable age.
Retirement finances: Will I inherit any state pension from my late police officer husband now I am aged 66?
To date, I have not been able to find out if I am still due this entitlement. There has been no communication from the DWP regarding this and all phone calls to them requesting the information has failed to shed any light on the matter.
I understand that the rules have changed in the time since his death, but after looking on the DWP website for information regarding inheriting extra state pension, I feel that I am due something as he reached the state pension age before 6 April, 2016.
Can you inform me if am I entitled to a portion of my late husband’s state pension?
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Steve Webb replies: There was a big shake-up to the state pension system in April 2016 and this can sometime make it hard to work out if you are entitled to claim a pension based on the contributions of a late husband or wife.
It can be especially confusing where, as in your case, one of you came under the old system and the other under the new one.
Fortunately, the DWP has produced a relatively simple tool where you can answer a few questions about your own date of birth and that of your spouse, and it will set out the basics as to what you may be entitled to.
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You can find the tool here.
I have used the tool based on the information you have supplied. It says that ‘your state pension will normally be based on your own NI contributions only’.
But if you read down the page there is a separate section headed ‘inheriting state pension’ and this is the part which is relevant to your query.
In your case, your late husband came under the old system and it says you ‘may be able to inherit a portion of his additional state pension’.
The exact percentage depends on the date of birth of the person who died, but in your husband’s case you would inherit 50 per cent of any additional state pension he was receiving.
A full list of percentages and dates of birth can be found here.
What the Government tool doesn’t tell you is how much this might be.
Where someone had a full working life as an employee and was never a member of a company pension scheme, they could build up a big ‘additional’ state pension so there would be a good amount to inherit.
But there are two groups whose additional state pension could be low or even zero:
-People who were in a ‘contracted out’ occupational pension scheme such as the Police pension; for those years their main earnings-related pension entitlement would be built up in their occupational pension scheme rather than the state scheme, so this would reduce the amount of additional state pension that was left to inherit;
– Self-employed people, whose NI contributions did not entitle them to additional state pension.
Whether you will inherit the £45 you remember or some different figure (or nothing at all) depends entirely on how much additional state pension your husband built up and we would only know this if we had access to his NI record.
But if this turns out to be a low figure then it would probably be because your late husband had long service in the police scheme.
If so, you should be getting a worthwhile widow’s pension from that source instead of from the state pension.
I should say, finally, that I have come across cases where widows were due an inherited amount on top of their new state pension but the DWP failed to make the payment.
If there appears to be no inherited amount in your state pension please do not hesitate to contact me again if you think this is wrong.
Ask Steve Webb a pension question
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.
He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.
Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.
If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
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If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a Government-backed organisation which gives free assistance on pensions to the public. It can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.
Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.
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