|Justice For Widows – A Success!|
Forces widows can now keep their pensions, thanks to the campaign mounted by the Forces Pension Society
You will have seen media coverage of the campaign run by the Forces Pension Society - including articles in Pathfinder Magazine – seeking a change to the AFPS 75 rule which requires anyone in receipt of a spouse or civil partner pension to surrender his or her right to that pension if they remarry or cohabit.
The Forces Pension Society called this campaign Justice For Widows and some newspapers specified that the fight was for ‘war widows’ to keep their pensions. In November 2014 the Prime Minister announced that he would agree to the all the demands made by the Justice For Widows campaign. The success goes much further than ‘war widows’.
Indeed, they number only 4,000 potential beneficiaries compared to the potential 400,000 ordinary widows this change will benefit. The announcement has a bearing on all AFPS 75 members, serving and retired, and their widows, widowers and bereaved civil partners. The purpose of this article is to set out what this Forces Pension Society victory means for AFPS 75 members and their families.
Following the Forces Pension Society’s request for definitive clarification as to precisely what the eligibility criteria would be in order to benefit from the announcement, MOD confirm the eligibility criteria as ‘someone married to the member or in a civil partnership with the member, whose relationship has not been legally dissolved.’
There is also a rule which requires the scheme administrators to check that a marriage or civil partnership which was entered into less than six months prior to the death of the member is not a ‘marriage of convenience’ but these checks are undertaken sensitively and discretely. It may sound a little mean to undertake these checks but marriages of convenience do take place across society and these few careful enquiries protect the taxpayer, who ultimately picks up the bill.
From 1 April 2015 AFPS 75 members who are still serving and retired personnel in receipt of a pension will no longer have to worry, from an Armed Forces Pension perspective, about the financial independence of their spouse or civil partner in the event of their death. The pension will not be affected by remarriage or cohabitation, even if the new relationship is with another Serviceman or woman.
If a subsequent marriage or civil partnership with an AFPS 75 member ends in the member’s death, the rules will not prevent the payment of a further spouse or civil partner pension – that is to say, you are allowed to have more than one dependant’s pension.
The latest version of AFPS 75 Your Pension Scheme Explained (dated February 2015) which sets out this rule change and much more can be found here
For those already in receipt of a spouse or civil partner’s pension, remarrying, entering into a new civil partnership or cohabiting after 1 April 2015 will not require the surrender of their pension, even if the new relationship is with another Serviceman or woman.
Those who have already surrendered their pension fall into three groups:
Those in the first category should apply for their pension to be reinstated. Legal separation alone is no longer a factor which would prevent the payment of a spouse or civil partner pension.
Those who have surrendered their pension because they entered into a new relationship before 1 April 2015 can only apply for their pension to be reinstated if the relationship has been legally dissolved and they are no longer cohabiting. If more than one AFPS 75 spouse or civil partner pension has been surrendered – if, for example, a woman has been widowed twice by the death of two AFPS 75 members - the application for restoration of pension should cover all surrendered pensions.
Those in the final category will have had to have undergone rigorous means testing to justify the reinstatement of their pension. Means testing will cease from1 April 2015 and those who have already failed the means test should reapply to get their pensions restored automatically.
Restored pension values will be brought up to present day values. Here are a few examples which show what this change of policy could mean:
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 April 2015 )|
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