Can I claim some of my husband's pension?

28 February 2017

Q

Although I have worked occasionally in the UK I have lived most of my life in Europe and the Middle East due to my husband’s occupation. As a result I have not accrued enough National Insurance contributions (NICs).

I retired, aged 60, in 2004 and my state pension is roughly £3,500 a year. My husband is younger than me and just retired at the age of 65. Over his working lifetime, he paid more than the minimum contributions for his own state pension.

When I retired it was indicated that I could claim a revision to my pension based on my husband’s contribution, or at least his excess contributions. I would appreciate your advice on whether the April 2016 changes have affected my entitlement to a review.

We don’t struggle to get by at the moment, thanks to savings, but if my husband was to die, my income wouldn’t be enough to live on, even if I get an additional widow’s top-up to my state pension.

From
ES/London

A

Under the old state pension system, you may have been able to claim a state pension based on your husband’s national insurance (NI) records. This was called a Category B pension, which ceases on remarriage.

The new state pension is usually based on your NI record only and hence the ability to claim through your husband’s NI record has ended.

However, if you were married at the time you reached state pension age and had paid the Married Woman’s Reduced rate national insurance, you may be able to claim the £71.50 per week new state pension now that your husband has reached state pension age, as this is greater than your state pension entitlement.

Furthermore, if you were to become widowed or divorced, you could be entitled to £119.30 per week state pension.

 

There is also another scenario, if your husband has a protected payment, meaning his state pension calculated under the old system is greater than the new state pension. On his death, you should be eligible to inherit 50% of his protected payment.

You can find out more about state pensions on the website Gov.uk.

It is possible to ‘top up’ your state pension by paying Class 3A voluntary NICs, which cost between £1 up to £25 per week. However, this option will only be available until 5 April 2017. The NICs system is changing after this date and buying Class 3As contributions will no longer be an option.