State pension payments after the death of a spouse or partner – inheritance rules and who is entitled to them

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State Pensions provide essential financial support to around 12.4 million people in the UK each month, including 981,399 living in Scotland, and for some it is their only source of income during their retirement years.

This periodic payment is made by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) and is available to those who have reached UK Government pensionable age and have paid enough National Insurance contributions, which is now 66 for both men and women.

Those entitled to the full new State Pension will receive £185.15 per week from 11 April, while those receiving the ‘old’ Basic State Pension (category A or B) will receive £141.85 per week .

The type of state pension a person can claim depends on their date of birth. Men born before April 6, 1951 and women born before April 6, 1953 are entitled to the basic state pension – those born after that are subject to the new statutory pension rules.

People who are eligible for the new state pension can do so once they reach statutory retirement age.

Once someone reaches statutory retirement age, they can defer payments if they choose to continue working.

This will actually increase the payments when they finally decide to make a claim. In addition, nothing prevents people from claiming the state pension while continuing to work.

But what happens to the state pension payments when you, your spouse or partner die?

What happens to your state pension when you die?

A state pension doesn’t just end when someone dies, you have to do something about it.

If the person dies you must inform the Pensions Service to stop payments – you can call the Pensions Service helpline on 0800 151 2012.

You may be entitled to co-payments from your deceased spouse’s or civil partner’s state pension.

However, this depends on their social security contributions and the date they reached statutory retirement age.

If you are under the statutory retirement age, you may also be entitled to death benefits.



A state pension entitlement from the DWP does not end with the death of a loved one.

Inheritance: State basic pension

If a spouse or registered partner reached statutory pension age before 6 April 2016, GOV.UK is directing people to contact the Pensions Service after the death of a person to see what rights they may have.

They may be able to increase their basic state pension by using the deceased’s qualifying years if they are not already receiving the full amount.

If you are of State Pension Age on or after 6 April 2016, or are below State Pension Age on the death of your spouse or civil partner, the Your partner’s National Insurance Record and your State Pension tool on the UK Government website can enable the following : person to check what inheritance they are entitled to.

Single, divorced, or dissolved persons may have their estate entitled to a basic state pension.

This is the case if that person dies after reaching state pension age and only if the state pension has not been claimed. In this case, the estate can claim up to three months of the basic state pension.

Extra money from deferred state pension

Some people may choose to defer their state pension to build up an additional amount.

In this situation, the spouse or partner can either apply for the supplementary state pension or receive a lump sum.

State pension increase

If someone topped up their state pension (between 12 October 2015 and 5 April 2017), their spouse or registered partner may inherit some or all of the top-up, according to gov.uk.

Inheritance: New State Pension

It may be that if a person is widowed, they may inherit an additional payment on top of their new state pension.

However, a person cannot inherit anything if they remarry or form a new civil partnership before reaching statutory retirement age.

Inheritors of a supplementary state pension

If a marriage or civil partnership began before April 6, 2016 and any of the following circumstances apply, a person may inherit a portion of their deceased partner’s Supplemental State Pension. These are:

  • The deceased partner reached statutory retirement age before April 6, 2016
  • You died before April 6, 2016, but would have reached statutory retirement age on or after that date

Inheriting a Protected Payment

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

  • Your state retirement age is on or after April 6, 2016

  • They died on or after April 6, 2016

  • This payment is made together with the state pension



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Inheriting an additional state pension or lump sum

A person may inherit a portion of their partner’s total Supplemental State Pension or Lump Sum if:

  • They died while deferring their state pension or had started claiming it after the deferral

  • You reached the statutory retirement age before April 6, 2016

  • They were married or in a registered civil partnership at the time of their death.

Check your State Pension to calculate how much money you will get on GOV.UK’s website here.

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