State Pension in Event of a Death

If your parent dies you will not be entitled to any of their State Pension, nor can you inherit their basic State Pension. You may however be entitled to one or more of the following:


  • bereavement benefits
  • a basic State Pension based on their National Insurance record
  • a percentage of their additional State Pension


If your partner or spouse dies, you may be entitled to Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and / or Widowed Parents Allowance. For more information on the qualifying terms and conditions of these benefits, including details of how to claim them, see Bereavement Allowance and Bereavement Payment, and Widowed Parents Allowance.


If you do not have a complete National Insurance record, perhaps as a result of years spent travelling, studying, or out of work, you may wish to use your late partner's National Insurance record as the basis for your basic State Pension. If your late partner has a National Insurance record which shows that they have paid contributions for ninety percent of their working life, that is, from age sixteen to the tax year before they died, you should be entitled to a basic State Pension at the full rate. The full rate is currently £87.30 a week. For more information on the State Pension see article The Basic State Pension.

  • If you are not yet of State Pension Age, see State Pension Age, when your partner dies, you will be entitled to this full rate pension when you reach State Pension Age, if you have not remarried and are not still receiving bereavement benefits.
  • If you are currently State Pension Age or older and were previously not entitled to a basic State Pension, you can begin receiving one based on your late partner's record straight away.
  • If you are currently State Pension Age or older and are currently claiming a reduced basic State Pension, you can use your late partner's record to top-up your reduced pension to the full-rate basic State Pension, and begin receiving this straight away.

If your late partner's record was incomplete, that is, showed they had paid National Insurance contributions for less than ninety percent of their working life, you may still be entitled to a reduced-rate basic State Pension based on their record.

  • If you are not yet of State Pension Age when your partner dies, you will be entitled to this reduced-rate State Pension when you reach State Pension Age, if you have not remarried and are not still receiving bereavement benefits.
  • If you are currently State Pension Age or older and were previously not entitled to a basic State Pension, you can begin receiving one based on your late partner's record straight away.
  • If you are currently State Pension Age or older and claiming a reduced basic State Pension which is lower in value than the pension your late partner's record would entitle you to receive, you can use your late partner's record to top-up your reduced pension to this new, higher level.


Be aware that before the 6th April 2010, if your late partner dies before reaching State Pension Age but you are already State Pension Age or older, you will not be able to claim a basic State Pension based on their National Insurance record. You may however be able to use your late partner's record to increase the amount of basic State Pension you are already entitled to receive based on your own National Insurance record. Whatever your circumstances, the amount of basic State Pension you receive will never exceed the full rate for a single person, currently £87.30 a week.


If your late partner had built up entitlement to State Second Pension, you may be able to claim a percentage of this on their death. You will be able to claim up to a maximum of fifty percent of what your late partner would have been entitled to claim. State Second Pension has been running since April 2002, when it replaced the previous scheme, the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme known as SERPS. The SERPS scheme ran from April 1978 until April 2002; if your partner worked during this time it is likely that they may have paid contributions to this scheme. For more details on the additional state pension see State Second Pension.


There are specific rules about how much of your late partner's SERPS you will be entitled to inherit, depending on their date of birth, the year when they were expected to reach State Pension Age and their gender. If your late partner was due to reach State Pension Age on or after the 6th October 2010, you will be entitled to a maximum of fifty percent of their SERPS. There is also a limit as to how much SERPS you are entitled to receive each week, currently set at £148.14 a week; if you are entitled to SERPS in your own right, your inherited SERPS may be reduced to prevent you receiving more than the limit. The exact rules and regulations governing how much SERPS you may be entitled to receive are complicated and vary widely according to your individual situation. When your partner dies, you should contact the Pension Service on 0845 606 0265 for advice and information. Their trained advisors should be able to tell you how much State, State Second and SERPS pension you are likely to receive.