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Death benefits

A new state pension system comes into effect from 6 April 2016.  This page contains information on how those reaching state pension age (SPA) before and after 6 April 2016 are affected.

Reaching your SPA before 6 April 2016

The current rules, detailed in this section, apply to you if you have already reached your SPA or are due to reach your SPA before 6 April 2016.

When you die, some of your state pension entitlements may pass to your widow, widower or surviving civil partner. 

Basic state pension

Your spouse or civil partner may be entitled to some basic state pension based on your national insurance (NI) contributions, but only if they have not already built up a full basic state pension from their own NI contributions record. 

When you die, your spouse or civil partner can apply for your NI record to be used instead of their own, so this will only help them if your record is more complete than theirs. 

If you die while they are under state pension age, they will lose this right if they remarry or enter into a new civil partnership before they reach state pension age. 

Your spouse or civil partner may be entitled to any extra state pension you are entitled to because you put off claiming it when you reached state pension age. 

Read our section on how the state pension works

To find out more visit the website

Additional state pension

You may have contributed towards an additional state pension. This could be the state second pension (S2P, which used to be known as the state earnings-related pension scheme or SERPS) or the graduated state pension

If you die, your spouse or civil partner may be able to inherit some of this additional state pension. 

To see how much additional state pension can be inherited, go to

Bereavement benefits

Your widowed husband, wife or civil partner may also be able to claim the following bereavement benefits:

  • a one-off bereavement payment;
  • bereavement allowance for one year;
  • widowed parent's allowance (if they have a dependent child or children). 

All these benefits will depend on the amount of national insurance contributions you've paid, or are treated as having paid. 

To read more about:

Reaching your SPA on or after 6 April 2016

A new state pension system is being introduced from 6 April 2016.  The benefits payable on your death will depend on when you or your partner reached or will reach their state pension age.

There will be transitional arrangements, so that in some circumstances, people who have made national insurance contributions under the current system will still be able to inherit state pension from a late spouse or partner.

  • Members of a couple in which only one of them reaches their State Pension age under the current system may be able to increase their state pension using their partner's National Insurance record. They can also inherit some additional State Pension from their deceased spouse or civil partner as under the present system.
  • When both partners reach State Pension age after single tier starts, a surviving spouse or civil partner will be able to inherit 50% of any protected payment that exists.  
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