Married retirees: Are you missing out on a potential increase to your state pension?

Over the last few years there has been significant press regarding 1950s born women being unfairly prejudiced by changes to the state pension. Campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) claim that the change in state pension age from 60 to 65 has negatively impacted 3.8 million women who were given little to no time to make alternative plans to their retirement.

State pension for married women

There has also been focus on married women who may be missing out on part of their state pension entitlement.

The issue affects the old state pension (for those reaching state pension age prior to April 2016) which had a special feature for married women. This feature allows married women to claim 60% of the basic state pension based upon their husband’s national insurance record. The ability to do this became available when the husband turned age 65. 

However it has become apparent that thousands of individuals are missing out on the potential increase to their state pension.

The ex-pension minister, Steve Webb, has written in financial press on this matter. He highlighted that for women whose husbands turned 65 after 17 March 2008, any uplift due to an individual’s state pension should have been added automatically (to the 60% of the husband’s basic state pension level). However, in some cases the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has failed to make the necessary change.

Review your state pension

For women whose husbands turned 65 before 17 March 2008, any uplift was not added automatically and it is necessary to make a claim for the uplift. Many are unaware of this. 

Given the above, if you are a married woman, you need to be able to tick the following boxes: 

  • A married woman who reached state pension age before 6th April 2016; this means you were born before 6th April 1953;
  • Married to a man who is over state pension age;
  • Your husband is entitled to a full basic state pension of £134.25 per week. Note that what matters is not his total weekly state pension but that the basic state pension element is being paid at £134.25 per week. 

If you meet all of these criteria and you are currently (in 2020/21) receiving a basic state pension of less than £80.45 per week, you should ask the pension service to review your state pension.

Should you claim, if you are an individual who should have received an automatic uplift, DWP will generally pay full back-payments, including interest (though sometimes you have to ask for this). For those who needed to claim at the time and did not do so, DWP treats this as a ‘new claim’ and are only willing to backdate for 12 months. 

If you want to discuss this, or any other aspect of your retirement planning* in more detail, please contact one of our financial advisers on 01903 534587.

*Please note that the value of investments may go down as well as up and you may not get back your initial investment.