Silver splitters’ state pensions - Guide on how to check if you’re entitled to a pension boost
If you reached the state’s retirement age before April 2016 and went on to get divorced, you could receive a government boost to your pension. Read the full details below:
What is it?
Legislation that allows an ex-spouse to improve their state pension by substituting their own National Insurance record for that of their ex-partner. Whilst this has been around for some time it is still a lesser known benefit. However, anyone reaching state retirement age after April 2016 will not qualify, but there are more and more people divorcing later in life. It’s estimated that around 6,000 older couples (also known as ‘Silver Splitters’) divorce each year, and many will have retired before April 2016 and come under the “Old State Pension” scheme. So, if you reached state retirement age before April 2016 and later divorced, you should check to see if you’re eligible.
As an example, if your state pension is £67 per week and your ex-spouse has a higher entitlement, say £127 per week, you can substitute their record for your own, and obtain an increase up to the same level as your ex-partner. This has no impact on the pension of your ex. If your ex didn’t reach state pension age before April 2016 then only the record up to that date will apply. This is because contributions after this date are part of the “New State Pension”
Why is it important?
It’s vital that divorcees are aware of the legislation, as entitlement is not automatically granted, it has to be applied for. Any back payments can only be paid for the previous three months, so getting your claim sorted sooner rather than later is in your best interest.
What should I do now?
All you need to do if you think you are entitled is inform The Pension Service (DWP) and provide either the original or a certified copy of your decree absolute and yours and your ex's national insurance number. In theory it's not always as straightforward as suggested, due to the lack of knowledge of some of the employees at the DWP. This lack of knowledge and misinformation can lead to some claimants giving up, but be persistent and ensure you get what you are entitled to!
How do I get help?
As mentioned previously, there is a lack of understanding within the Department for Work and Pensions so it's important to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights when speaking with them. Alternatively, you can engage an adviser who specialises in divorce and ask them to assist with the process. There are a small number of Resolution Accredited Financial Advisers, specialists in divorce separation, who should be able to assist you if needed.