Unmarried partner can claim pension

When a person dies, the entitlement to any pension or lump sum is generally limited to the spouse, civil partner or dependents of the deceased (depending on the terms of the pension scheme). This means that on the death of a cohabitant, their unmarried partner does not have an entitlement to their pension.

However, a recent Court of Appeal case has held that a woman has won the right to receive her late partner's military pension. Interestingly, the RAF pension scheme does allow unmarried partners of officers to receive their pension. In this case however the woman's claim was initially disqualified because she had not dissolved her earlier marriage to her husband. She had been estranged from her husband for 17 years and in a relationship with the deceased for 15 years.

The Court of Appeal held that this approached breached the human rights of the woman and allowed her claim.

It is thought that the decision will lead to partners of deceased public sector workers bringing claims for pension entitlement, also including back payments. This is a far-reaching decision because it may include the pensions of people in a wide number of public sectors including education, police, fire service, NHS and the civil service.

It is thus important for the survivor of a deceased public sector worker to obtain specialist advice to ensure that they are not denied important pension rights on the death of their partner.

To discuss this or any other probate or pension matter, contact us.