However, I have since been told that I may have been entitled to a portion of my late husband’s pension which he would have received had he lived. I hope you can advise me as to the truth of this?
SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW TO ASK YOUR PENSION QUESTION
Payouts to widow: Should I have inherited some of my late husband’s state pension? (Stock image)
Steve Webb replies: Under the old state pension system, which applied to those who reached pension age before 6 April 2016, there was provision for widows to get an enhanced state pension based on their late husband’s contributions.
This enhancement came in two parts. First, a widow’s basic state pension could be based on her late husband’s record of National Insurance Contributions rather than her own.
As many married women did not build up a full state pension in their own right, this rule often helped to ensure that widows received a bigger basic state pension than they would have done.
Because this situation is relatively common, I would expect the Department for Work and Pensions to perform this calculation automatically.
If you have paperwork which shows you drawing a full basic state pension (as part of your total state pension) then this would confirm that all was in order.
Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below
Second, a widow could also inherit part of her late husband’s pension under the state earnings-related pension scheme (SERPS).
The proportion that could be inherited depended on the late husband’s date of birth, and in your case the proportion would be 60 per cent.
A table setting out the percentage that can be inherited based on the data of birth of the person who died can be found here.
In principle, therefore, your pension in 2007 should have been made up of a full basic pension – assuming your late husband had an extensive National Insurance record before he died), any SERPS pension that you had built up in your own right and 60 per cent of your late husband’s SERPS pension.
There is however a cap on the maximum amount of SERPS pension which you can receive in total which is currently £172.28 per week.
I am assuming that this would not be relevant to you, but if you had remarried between your husband’s death and your own state pension age then you would lose any rights to inherit from a first husband’s NI record.
Without knowing how much SERPS pension your late husband would have received, it is hard to know for sure whether you have been awarded your share or not.
For example, if your husband was a member of a company pension scheme which was ‘contracted out’ of the SERPS scheme, he may have only built up a very small SERPS pension, and your share of that would be smaller still.
The best thing to do would be to write to the Pension Service and ask them to set out how your state pension has been worked out and whether an amount has been included for inherited SERPS.
If an error has been made, I would expect them to issue you with a backdated payment to make up for the shortfall since you reached state pension age.
I would be most grateful if you would let me know the outcome, not least because if an error has been made this could have affected other people in your situation.
ASK STEVE WEBB A PENSION QUESTION
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.
He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.
Since leaving the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election, Steve has joined pension firm Royal London as director of policy.
If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.
If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.
Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.
If you have a question about state pension top-ups, Steve has written a guide which you can find here.