Trying to understand if you are entitled to your husband’s State Pension when he dies can be very difficult.  

The State Pension is very complicated when trying to understand your own position let alone what you are due if you lose your husband.  

We are not helped by the fact the State Pension has gone through many changes over the years so working through different periods means you and your husband may have built up different types of benefit which all needs to be accounted for.  

Hopefully, this article will help you on your way if you are in the unfortunate position of having recently lost your husband. Or you are a husband and want to get things in order, so it is as easy as possible for your partner to sort everything out after you have gone. 

Understanding whether you can inherit your husband’s State Pension when he dies 

It is worth stating at this point that only a spouse or civil partner can inherit some of the deceased’s State Pension. 

A live-in partner cannot, even if you have had children together.  

Children also cannot inherit their parent’s State Pension.  

The executors of the deceased’s estate may be able to claim up to three months of State Pension payments if the deceased was past State Pension age on death. 

Before we start to understand whether you can inherit your husband’s State Pension when he dies it’s worth explaining a bit of background to the State Pension. 

There is a key date to be aware of, 6th April 2016. This was the date the new State Pension was introduced.  

Before this date there were slightly different qualifying rules to receive the State Pension and you were also able to build up additional State Pension if you were a higher earner. These schemes had names such as: 

  • SERPS. 
  • State Second Pension. 

There were also periods where you might have ‘contracted out’ and paid less National Insurance in exchange for a credit into your separate workplace pension scheme. 

Since the 6th April 2016 the new State Pension has tried to make things simpler and there are no new additional benefits that can be built up. Just a flat pension based on your National Insurance contribution record.  

Of course, because many people will have crossed over and built-up benefits before and after 6th April 2016 the old benefits built up need to be protected. 

To determine what happens to your husband’s State Pension when he dies it will depend on what your State Pension age is. 

Your State Pension age is BEFORE 6th April 2016 

If you reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016 then you will be claiming under the old basic State Pension rules.  

You may be able to claim a proportion of your husband’s basic State Pension if his pension entitlement is higher than yours. Even if you have no record yourself.  

If your husbands basic State Pension entitlement is lower than yours, you won’t be due anything on this element. 

If your husband’s State Pension age was after 6th April 2016 then you can only use his National Insurance contribution record up to this date. 

You may also be able to claim some of your husband’s additional State Pension built up before 6th April 2016. 

If you have yet to receive your State Pension but your husband was receiving his before 6th April 2016 then you will lose any chance to inherit his State Pension if you re-marry or enter a civil partnership before you reach State Pension age. 

If your husband was entitled to his State Pension before he died but had deferred it you will likely be entitled to all of the deferred payment providing you were married or in a civil partnership to him before 6th April 2016. 

If it was deferred a year or more then you can get a lump sum. If it was deferred for less than a year you will get weekly payments as part of your own State Pension. 

You will only receive the money from any inherited State Pension element once you reach your own State Pension age. 

Your State Pension age is AFTER 6th April 2016 

If your State Pension age is after 6th April 2016 then you will be claiming under the new State Pension rules.  

You cannot use your husband’s National Insurance contribution record to improve your own, but you may still be able to claim some of your husband’s additional State Pension which will now be recorded as a protected payment. 

You can also still claim any deferred State Pension which your husband was entitled to but had not claimed yet. 

You will not be entitled to anything if you re-marry or enter a new civil partnership before you reach State Pension. Although you will keep any inherited benefits if you re-marry or enter a new civil partnership after your State Pension age. 


Where to go next to inherit your husband’s State Pension when he dies  

Unfortunately, the only way to be absolutely clear on what you can inherit from your husband’s State Pension is to contact the Pension Service. 

I say unfortunate because feedback I have had is that dealing with the Pension Service can be a slow process. 

You can do this via phone or post.  

The government have put together a handy guide with further details on what you may be entitled to here. 

If you are yet to reach State Pension age and are in the process of trying to ensure everything is in order for when you are gone, you can check yours and your partner’s own State Pension record via your government gateway account. 

You may also be entitled to other bereavement payments if you have lost a husband.  

If time is on your side, then the key thing to do is to make your own retirement planning provision. Build your own wealth using investments and pensions so you are not reliant on the State Pension. 

It may seem unfair that a person can work all their life, build up a full National Insurance contribution record and then it dies with them.  

This is because there is no State Pension pot. Our National Insurance payments today do not go into a fund for us ready to pay out in the future. Instead, they are used to pay today’s State Pensioners. 

The State Pension is a very expensive benefit. The State Pension age is being pushed back and back. Will it even still be around in the future? Is the policy of auto-enrolment and paying into workplace pensions laying the groundwork for the demise of the State Pension?  

This all makes choosing and being in control of your retirement date difficult. Therefore, it’s better to build your own wealth and look after yourself.  

If you would like to stress test your retirement plans or even to get a plan in place then please get in touch for a free no obligation 15-minute call. We would be happy to review your position, explain where you stand and what you need to do to get the outcome you desire. We have created hundreds of happy and protected retirements over the years. This could be you too.  

Risk warning:

Stock market linked investments and any income from them, can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Any figures quoted are for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as a forecast or guarantee. Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future returns and clients may get back less than they have invested.