Can my wife and I inherit our deceased’s unclaimed pensions? What are the rules and how do we do it? Steve Webb answers

A few months ago I read an article that stated that children can inherit their deceased parents’ unclaimed pensions or a portion of them after their death.

Although I read the article and understood the mechanics, now I can’t find it again and I’m wondering if this is really possible.

My parents died at 69 and 71 respectively, and my wife’s parents died at 62 and 70, so I would like to follow up on inheriting the pension.

Unclaimed pensions: Those who believe they may inherit a parent’s pension can fill in an online form and the DWP will search

As far as I can see, there is no information on any government website.

Was the article correct in stating that children can inherit their parents’ unclaimed pensions – and if so, what are the rules and how do they do this?


Steve Webb replies: There are some very limited circumstances in which a child can inherit from their late parent’s state pension, which I will explain below.

But in general, the only other person who can benefit from someone’s state pension contributions is a spouse or civil partner, and even these rights are being phased out.

The first time a family member can inherit from a parent’s National Insurance contributions is if the parent deferred claiming a state pension and died without receiving it.

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former pensions minister about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former pensions minister about your retirement savings in the box below

If a parent does not have a surviving spouse and dies because of a delayed state pension, their estate can claim three months’ worth of pension. You can read more details here.

Any claim would have to be made relatively soon after the person’s death – you can’t go back years and claim a deferred state pension that was never received.

Note also that this information applies only to those cases where the deceased person reached retirement age before April 6, 2016 and was covered by the “old” state pension system.

The second case, and I think you’re referring to, is if you believe your late parents (or in-laws) may have been underpaid their state pension due to mistakes we’ve highlighted on This is Money in recent years.

The good news is that the DWP has recently set up a website which allows people to post details about a person who has died. They will then check to see if there was an error, and if an error is found, they will make a payment to the estate. You can register in detail here.

As you will see, the website looks at different situations where people may have been underpaid (for example, a woman whose state pension was not revised following the death of her husband).

It also lists the information you will need to provide, including full name, date of birth, date of death, last known address and details of any spouse. If you have a National Insurance number it will help speed up the process.

While this website is a helpful tool and allows people to avoid calling the number and get in touch with the right person, I have to add a few words of caution.

First, the DWP can get rid of the records a few years after a person’s death. Generally, if someone’s NI record is still ‘in use’ (eg a husband has died but his widow is claiming a pension based on his contributions) then the record will be kept, but if it is no longer in use it will usually be deleted after about four years.

This means that people whose loved ones died years ago may find that it is now impossible to check on official records whether someone is being underpaid

A second word of caution is that the DWP is keen to avoid ‘fishing’ where everyone puts details of family members on the site in case there are any rights.

In the interests of ensuring that people who may be genuinely eligible can process their applications effectively, I encourage everyone using this site to read the information and submit details only if you believe a loved one may be eligible. categories.

The DWP said its own comprehensive error trawl would include those who are now deceased, so in principle any errors should ultimately be found as part of this exercise if NI records still exist, and then payments made to estates.

Ask Steve Webb a retirement question

Former pensions minister Steve Webb is a cash-strapped uncle.

Whether you’re still saving, quitting your job, or juggling your finances in retirement, he’s ready to answer your questions.

Steve left the Department for Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner in the actuarial and consulting firm Lane Clark & ​​Peacock.

If you want to ask Steve a question about pensions, email him

Steve will do his best to respond to your message in the next column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or correspond with readers personally. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Posted questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.

If Steve can’t answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that provides free pension help to the public. It can be found here and his number is 0800 011 3797.

Stevee gets a lot of questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – Contractual Pension Equivalent. If you write to Steve about this topic, he answers a typical question from a reader here. It includes links to several of Steve’s previous columns on state pension projections and contracts that you may find useful.