Claiming state pension once your spouse has died

Claiming state pension from a deceased spouse: there are two types of pension, the basic state pension and the new state pension. The type a person can claim will depend on their date of birth. For instance, men born before April 6, 1951 and women born before April 6, 1953 can claim the basic state pension. Those born after these dates follow the new state pension rules.

People who are eligible to claim the state pension can do so once they’ve reached their state pension age – which is rising. It is possible to defer claiming the state pension, and if this is done for a certain amount of time, the pensioner’s monthly payment may increase when they do start claiming it. A big concern some people have is what happens to their state pension in terms of inheritance when they die.

Basic state pension
If the spouse or civil partner has reached state pension age before April 6, 2016, then instructs them to contact the Pension Service once someone dies in order to check what they can claim. It may be that they can increase their basic state pension by using the deceased’s qualifying years if they do not already receive the full amount.

If they have reached state pension age on or after April 6, 2016, or are under state pension age when their spouse or civil partner dies, the  “Your partner’s National Insurance record and your State Pension” tool on the government website can enable a person to check what inheritance they might be entitled to.

Some people may have opted to defer their state pension in order build up an extra amount. In this situation, the spouse or civil partner may either claim the extra state pension or receive a lump sum. If someone has topped up their state pension (between October 12, 2015 and April 5, 2017), the spouse or civil partner may be able to inherit some or all of the top up, states.

Inheritance: New state pension
A person may be able to inherit an extra payment on top of their new state pension if they are widowed. However, an individual cannot inherit anything should they remarry or form a new civil partnership before they reach state pension age.

If a marriage or civil partnership began before April 6, 2016 and one of the following circumstances applies, then a person may inherit part of their deceased partner’s Additional State Pension.

These are:

  • The deceased partner reached state pension age before April 6, 2016
  • They died before April 6, 2016 but would have reached state pension age on or after that date

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

  • Their state pension age is on or after April 16, 2016
  • They died on or after April 6, 2016

This payment will be made with the state pension.

A person may inherit part of all of their partner’s extra state pension or lump sum if:

  • They died while they were deferring their state pension or had started claiming it after deferring
  • They reached state pension age before April 6, 2016
  • They were married or in the civil partnership when they died

Ann-Marie Matthews is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich Solicitors.

Suffolk Wills Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email