Prior to 2016, the state pension system comprised a basic pension plus an optional top-up (SERPS/Second State Pension). From 6 April 2016 that was replaced by a simpler flat rate state pension for new retirees, with a significant reduction in the number of years of NIC history needed to fund a 100% entitlement.
However, the old system – which remained in force for those who had already retired – contained a ticking time bomb.
Under the old system, many married women were unable to build up the lengthy employment history then required to fund a full pension in their own right; many others had paid a reduced “married woman’s” rate of NIC. This led to many women retiring on quite minimal state pensions.
To compensate for this inability to self-fund a full individual pension, they had the ability to claim 60% of their husband’s pension entitlement from the time he reached retirement age. Similar provisions applied to widows and divorcées.
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