State Pension death benefits

It may be possible to inherit or increase State Pension if your spouse or civil partner dies or has died.

What it might be possible to claim will depend on your State Pension ages and the date of your marriage/civil partnership. 

Reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016

Any State Pension is based on the old rules if you or your partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016. 

You or your partner will have reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 if you or they were born before 6 April 1953.

There are two parts to the old State Pension – the basic State Pension and the Additional State Pension. They work slightly differently, and entitlement may have been built up under both the basic State Pension and the Additional State Pension or just the basic State Pension. What might be paid on death will depend on when the person who dies first reached their State Pension age and when you were married.

For more detail on how it works, see our guide on the State Pension.

Increasing your basic State Pension

If you are married or in a civil partnership and you both reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 then, when one of you dies, the survivor may be entitled to receive a higher basic State Pension based on the National Insurance record of their partner. This is only the case if the surviving partner hasn’t already built up a full basic State Pension from their own National Insurance contribution record.

If your spouse or civil partner is under State Pension age when you die, they will lose this right if they remarry or enter into a new civil partnership before they reach State Pension age.

If your spouse or civil partner dies you may be able to increase your basic State Pension up to £137.60 a week (in 2021/2022) if:

  • your own basic State Pension is less than £137.60 a week
  • your late spouse or civil partner had enough National Insurance contributions.

Inheriting Additional State Pension

If you are married or in a civil partnership and one of you dies, then the survivor may be entitled to some Additional State Pension based on the National Insurance record of their partner. 

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Inheriting extra State Pension or a lump sum

If you were married or in a civil partnership and your partner reached State pension age before 6 April 2016 and they had delayed or stopped taking their State Pension for a while, known as ‘deferring’, you may be able to inherit part or all the extra State Pension or lump sum they had built up. 

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Reaching your State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016

You may be able to inherit or increase your State Pension if your spouse or civil partner has died.

You will not be able to inherit anything if you remarry or form a new civil partnership before you reach State Pension age. 

Inheriting Additional State Pension or Protected Payments

If you were married to your spouse or civil partner before 6 April 2016 you may be able to inherit up to half of your partner’s Additional State Pension or protected payment. Protected payments usually account for any Additional State Pension built up but paid out under the new State Pension.

You should contact the Pension Service to check what you can claim.

Inheriting extra State Pension or a lump sum

If you were married or in a civil partnership and your partner reached State pension age before 6 April 2016 and they had delayed or stopped taking their State Pension for a while, known as ‘deferring’, you may be able to inherit part or all the extra State Pension or lump sum they had built up.

There is no inheritance of any extra State Pension that your spouse or civil partner may have been receiving or built up if they reached State Pension after 6 April 2016 and had delayed or stopped claiming their State Pension for a time.

Increasing your State Pension from a spouse or civil partner

If you and your partner reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you’ll both claim the ‘new’ State Pension. Your State Pension will normally be based on your own National Insurance contributions only.

To help people understand what they might be entitled to, there’s a useful tool on the GOV.UK website

More information

As well as any extra State Pension, your widowed husband, wife or civil partner might also be able to claim other bereavement benefits.

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