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Inheritance of UK State Retirement Pension

Thursday 01 December 2011

A recent serious illness and stay in hospital set a reader thinking about his wife’s UK state retirement pension should anything happen to him.

My UK state retirement pension (UKSRP) is 2.4 times that of my wife, so would she become entitled to inherit mine I wondered, says Ron Wright, who lives in Charente-Maritime?

Like many I imagine, this question can be critical for widows (also widowers and civil partners) who often find themselves in a vulnerable financial situation in such circumstances.

I, therefore, decided to write to the International Pension Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, who confirmed that my wife’s basic state pension would be increased to a comparable rate to that which I was in receipt of at the time of death.

I also corresponded with Age Concern UK and did further research on their web site, which is very informative on this particular aspect of the UK state retirement pension.

What this research has established is that if a spouse in receipt of a basic UKSRP (but not a full one) when her husband dies, she may be able to use his NI contribution record to bring her basic UKSRP up to a comparable rate to that which her husband was in receipt of at the time of his death... that is, if his pension is better than her own.

On top of this, she may also qualify for some of two other components of his UKSRP called 'Additional State Pension' and 'Graduated Retirement Benefit'.

Any enhanced UKSRP must be formally claimed, so your spouse would need to write to the Dept of Work & Pensions, International Pension Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA ENGLAND and giving full names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and a copy of the death certificate.

Further official aspects of this matter would need to be sought on an individual basis direct from DWP at the above address, including the rules in the case of widowers and civil partners.

You will also find very useful information on the AGE UK site where you can freely download their “Factsheet 19 - State Pension.” (April 2011), which covers not only widows, but also widowers, civil partners, remarriage etc.

Note: The UK intends to make changes to state pension legislation and so the above information, may be subject to future change. Accordingly, always write to DWP for the most current information available.

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