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Inheriting a State Pension

Inheriting a Basic State Pension

If a spouse or civil partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, they should contact the Pension Service following the death of their partner to check whether they are entitled to claim. They may be able to increase their basic State Pension by using qualifying years built up by their partner if they do not already qualify for the full amount.

Inheriting an Additional State Pension

A spouse or civil partner may be able to inherit an Additional State Pension following the death of their partner:

  • If the surviving spouse or civil partner is under the State Pension age

They may inherit an Additional State Pension if they receive Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPS), although if WPS ends the Additional State Pension ends too. It may be paid again when the individual reaches State Pension age if, for example, they haven’t remarried or formed a new civil partnership. If the surviving partner receives Bereavement Allowance, they will only inherit any Additional State Pension once they reach State Pension age, and only if they haven’t remarried or formed a new civil partnership.

  • If the surviving spouse or civil partner has reached State Pension age

The maximum amount that can be inherited by the surviving spouse depends on when the deceased died.

Inheriting the new State Pension

Someone may inherit an extra payment on top of their new State Pension if they are widowed, but only if they do not remarry or form a new civil partnership before they reach State Pension age. A person can contact the Pension Service to check if they are able to claim Additional State Pension based on the NI record of another individual.

Inheriting a deferred State Pension

Someone can normally inherit a partner’s extra State Pension if all of the following circumstances apply:

  • They were married or in a civil partnership when their partner died
  • Their partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016
  • They didn’t remarry or form a new civil partnership before they reached State Pension age
  • Their partner had deferred or was claiming a deferred State Pension when they died
  • If the partner died before 6 April 2010, one of the following must also apply:
    • They were over State Pension age when their partner died
    • They were female and under State Pension age when their husband died.

Receiving inheritance payments from a deferred State Pension

How someone receives an inherited deferred State Pension depends on whether it was claimed or not before the deceased past away.

  • If the partner died before claiming their State Pension, payment depends on how long the pension was deferred for:
    • A year or more: the surviving partner can choose to inherit a lump sum or weekly payments.
    • Between five weeks and a year: the payments are received as weekly payments.
    • Less than five weeks: the deferred payments will form part of the deceased’s estate.
  •  If the partner was claiming their State Pension before they died, the surviving partner will receive payments as extra weekly payments with their own State Pension.

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Important information

The content contained on this page is designed to give professional financial advisers technical information on retirement planning and pensions legislation and should not be relied upon.

No statements or representations made in any of the content provided on this page are legally binding on Fidelity or the recipient and no liability is accepted in connection with this material or any matter discussed. We cannot give advice regarding tax.

This represents a summary of our understanding of the law at the date of its last review (March 2024). Tax limits, benefits, allowances and rules are often subject to change and may change in future. Advisers and individuals should check that tax limits, allowances and rules have not changed.

The value of benefits depends on individual circumstances. The minimum age you can normally access your pension savings is currently 55, and is due to rise to 57 on 6 April 2028, unless you have a lower protected pension age. Different options may have different effects for tax purposes, different implications for pension provision and different impacts on other assets and financial planning.


The State Pension – The new vs. the old scheme

Here we examine the differences between the old and the new State Pensions and the options open to clients should they wish to boost their entitlement by deferring their State Pension.

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