What will happen to my state pension if I become a civil partner with a friend? Steve Webb replies

Our lives are shared by a dear friend over many years. We have also left all of our assets to one another in our wills.

My friend, who is now 73 years of age, became eligible for her state pension when she turned 60. The amount was calculated using her ex- husband’s NI contributions. The couple divorced in 1970.

At 68, I receive my state pension. We are considering the benefits of contracting a civil partnership but have concerns about whether this will affect the amount of my friend’s state pension.

Is it possible to modify the will through a civil partnership? Will any death benefits after that be affected by this change? We don’t know who can help us. Many thanks.


Financial planning: If I enter a civil partnership with a close friend will this affect her state pension?

Financial planning: Will a civil partnership I am entering with a friend have an impact on her state pension?

Steve Webb replies:Many people ask me questions about how changes in their relationships will affect state pensions or benefits.

It is important to note that, for the most part, the government treats registering civil partnerships the same as marriage.

Civil partnerships originally existed for the same sex couple, but were recently extended to include opposite sex partners. They allow a couple to legally register their relationship and avoid going through marriage.

I see that your friend was divorced when she reached pension age, and that she comes under the ‘old’ state pension system.

Under that system, if someone was divorced when they reached pension age, their state pension could be calculated on the basis of their ex-spouse’s NI contribution record up to the date of the divorce.

This should already be happening and should be helping to boost your friend’s state pension entitlement.

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Steve Webb: Ask the ex-Pensions Minister about your retirement savings. Use the box below to find out more.

Her point of view shows that even though she married or formed a civil partner, the state pension would still be paid at her current rate.

Ask about the death benefit issue.

A divorced woman like your friend is entitled to full NI payments from her husband since the time she started receiving her basic state pension.

Therefore, there is nothing more to be left when your husband dies. It does not matter if she forms a civil partner with you.

You should also be aware that, under the old state pension system rules, people who have married or established a civil partner after retiring could receive death benefits from the new partner.

These provisions, however, were applicable only to individuals who registered civil partnerships or married prior to the changes on 6 April 2016.

People with lower incomes might need to consider how their decisions could impact any benefits they get, such as housing or pension credit.

When it comes to means-tested benefits you don’t need to be married or in a civil relationship. It is important that you have a household.

It is mentioned that you live with your partner and the benefits authorities will treat you both as married regardless of whether you are married.

If you had plans to live together and form a civil partnership, you’d be treated as a spouse. Any assessment for benefits would use your combined income.

Ask Steve Webb a pension question

Steve Webb, a former Minister for Pensions is this Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

We are available to answer any questions you may have about your financial situation, including whether it is stopping working, saving for retirement, or managing your money in retirement.

Steve left Department of Work and Pensions following the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Steve will respond to all messages in his column. He won’t always be able answer every question or to correspond with each reader. His replies do not constitute regulated financial advice. Some questions published are edited for clarity or another reason.

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Steve may not be able to answer your questions. MoneyHelper is an organization that the Government supports and provides free advice on pensions. It can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. Steve responds to most questions from readers when they write him on the topic. Click here. You will find links to Steve’s previous columns regarding state pension forecasts or contracting out.  

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