State pension rule changes could mean you suffer 'income shock when partner dies'

STATE PENSION changes are likely to catch people out, and lead to a double shock of missing out on income as well as losing a partner.

Martin Lewis advises on State Pension ‘top up’ for widows

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Advisors have warned people could face an “income shock” if they are not prepared for a drop in payments in this circumstance.

State pension changes are likely to catch people out and lead to a double shock of missing out on income as well as losing a partner.

They have urged people who look after their finances by themselves to stay aware as many could be blindsided by the changes.

The financial consultancy firm, Lane, Clark, Peacock (LCP), say the changes mean those on the new state pension are likely to suffer a substantial drop in income after their partner passes away.

However, those on the old state pension system should be less vulnerable to these changes.

Steve Webb, partner at LCP, said: “Coping with bereavement is hard enough, but coping with a sharp fall in living standards thereafter is even tougher.

Widow

Under the new system, peopl suffer a drop in living standards of 24 percent when widowed (Image: Getty)

“Although the new State Pension generally pays more to women in their own right at retirement than the old system, it has very limited provision for widows and widowers.

“Newly retired couples and those coming up to retirement need to find out where they would stand with state and private pensions if one of them were to die and to explore making additional provision to cushion the financial impact of bereavement.”

Warnings over the financial shock of widowhood have been cemented by the revelation of drastic differences in living standards enjoyed after one is widowed.

LCP has said that widows would generally face a standard of living drop of nine percent under the old system, whereas people in the new system will suffer a dramatic 24 percent fall in living standards.



The old system applies to people who reached the state pension age (SPA) before April 6, 2016.

Under this system, people were entitled to a state pension based on the National Insurance contributions (NICs) of their late partner.

These rules offset the fact women typically had accumulated lower NICs due to lower wages over the course of their lifetime.

The new rules do away with this and put the focus of the state pension on the idea people should receive an income that is reflective of their own NICs.

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There was nothing in the way of a transition between these two systems.

However, people who are widowed could still receive state pension entitlement on the lines of the old system if their partner was born before April 6, 2016.

People may be able to buy a joint life annuity in order to mitigate the effects of the new system and ensure that each partner has protection in retirement.

Annuities are designed to protect people against the risk of outliving their retirement income.

Infographic

What is the state pension? (Image: Express)

Through an annuity, people can use their pension pot to buy a retirement income that will be guaranteed to last as long as they live.

Darren Cooke, a chartered financial planner from Red Circle Financial Planning, said: “This is one of those situations where forewarned is forearmed.

“Just being aware of the change in income if one partner dies allows the couple to plan for it and consider how the widow(er) could cope.

“In early retirement, the couple need to be careful of taking on debt, as even small interest payments could be a big part of a reduced income.

“Also, be careful of spending down savings too quickly as they may be better spent to support the survivor once the income drops.

“There is also a need to have a conversation with the wider family, to make them aware that if one person dies the survivor is going to have a significant reduction in income and find out if the family could help out.”

The Express.co.uk has approached the DWP for comment.

William Murphy

William Murphy

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