One of the worrying aspects of widowhood is future income, so it is a good idea to work out how you will manage financially should the unthinkable happen and your husband passes away. Pension legislation changes frequently, so check with the Gov.UK website to calculate your entitlement to state pension. They provide tools that can help you work out how much you should be receiving. For company and private schemes, consult an independent financial advisor. The Citizen's Advice Bureau can also point you in the right direction. Note that all pension benefits, apart from Child Allowance, whether State or private are taxable and should be declared on an annual Tax Return.
A woman will receive a Widow's Pension when her husband dies if she is over the age of 45. It comprises a basic pension plus an additional earnings-related pension, which depends upon the number of National Insurance contributions her husband made during his working life. If she is under 45 with no children, she will not receive Widow's Pension. A woman over retirement age will be entitled to claim the state pension in her own right.
Widowed Parent's Allowance
A younger woman with children will qualify for the Widowed Parent's Allowance. Each child must either be her own or her husband's, and under 19 years old if still in full-time education. If the child is over 16 and not in education then the Widowed Parent's Allowance ceases. If she is over 45, she will then receive Widow's Pension. A woman cannot receive Widowed Parent's Allowance as well as Widow's Pension.
Widowed Parent's Allowance consists of an amount equivalent to the current state pension, plus an earnings-related portion (both taxable), and a non-taxable allowance for each child as long as they are in full-time education and are under the age of 19.
Private pensions are generally non-transferable, i.e. the benefits cannot be passed to the surviving partner. However, it is possible that a reduced pension may be paid, depending upon the original plan taken out. Additionally, all contributions may be returned, including any investment growth they have accumulated. Again this depends on the policy itself. Consult your policy documents and seek the help of a financial advisor.
Most, but not all, company pension schemes provide a spouse's pension if the employee dies before retirement, commonly known as death-in-service. Additionally the employee's contributions may be returned, including any investment growth. A partner may also receive a pension if their spouse dies after retirement, but this depends on the individual scheme. Check your company pension documentation and consult a financial advisor.