Can I claim my late husband's state pension?

17 December 2013


I'm 58, widowed, and have worked full-time since the age of 19. I have paid sufficient National Insurance (NI) contributions for a full state pension in my own right and under the old system stood to inherit part of my late husband's second state pension contributions, as well as the state second pension I have built up in my own right. I am due to retire in 2021, aged 66. Can I expect to receive any more than the single-tier pension at that time? Will I lose the extra second state pension I have built up and my entitlement to claim part of my late husband's second state pension?


The universal or single-tier state pension is due to be introduced from April 2016. It will provide a basic flat-rate state pension, worth £145.40 each week in today's money. However, despite being referred to as a universal or single-tier pension, some people will get more or less than this depending on their circumstances and NI contributions.

The government doesn't plan to take away money from anyone who has built up a second state pension entitlement, meaning if you have a sufficient NI record, you could receive more than the standard rate pension. This looks like it could apply to you.

However, a key aspect of the single-tier pension is that it is based on individual qualification. The reforms will put an end to payments made to spouses who are widowed before they reach state pension age, as currently they may be entitled to some of their late partner's basic pension. It will also mean that, with the second state pension ending, spouses will no longer be able to inherit a portion of their partner's second state pension when they die.

That said, there will be transitional circumstances where someone can benefit from their spouse's entitlement; but as it seems you will be entitled to the full state pension anyway, our understanding is that this is unlikely to apply to you. However, there is some complexity around much of the detail of the single-tier pension and it wouldn't be surprising if further changes were made prior to its implementation.