My wife was a “stay home” mom during my career at the RAF, and now she’s been denied a state pension – is that fair? Steve Webb answers

I joined the RAF in 1969 and served a little over 27 years. I got married in 1972 – this year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary.

We have three children: the first was born in 1973, the second was born in 1974, and the third was born in 1976. My wife was a mother who “sat at home” and thus never worked.

Due to frequent relocations during my career, including two trips (six years) to Germany, it also made work more difficult for my wife.

As I reached retirement age (66), my wife filled out forms for a state pension and received a message in response that she was not entitled to it. Is this really correct? Is that fair? I receive a military pension and at the age of 65 received a state pension.


Denied state pension: my wife was sitting at home and could not work, also due to frequent relocations during her career in the RAF, right?

Steve Web responds: Under the new state pension system, in order to receive a pension at all, you must have at least ten years of contributions or loans to the National Insurance.

This was probably the reason why your wife was told she was not entitled to a pension.

However, there are three possible ways this can be addressed.

The first is a special scheme for military spouses serving abroad. As you noted, the spouse or partner of any of the employees of the service can be difficult to get a job abroad, and this can be detrimental to their own National Insurance records.

In response, the government has set up a system of “credits” of national insurance for a spouse or partner of a serviceman while serving abroad.

Steve Webb: Learn how to ask a former pension minister about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Learn how to ask a former pension minister about your retirement savings in the box below

These loans are not awarded automatically, so your spouse must qualify for any loans to which she may be eligible. Perhaps that will be enough to reach a ten-year minimum contribution.

You can read more about these loans here.

The second thing you need to find out is whether your wife gets all the loans she deserves for the time without paid childcare.

Since 1978/79, she has potentially been entitled to national insurance loans if she received child benefit under the age of 16.

If your youngest child was born in 1976, it could potentially entitle her to more than ten years (after 1978) of state pension credits. (Until 2010, these loans were called “Home Duty Protection” or HRP).

If this is not reflected in her NI record, it should be checked.

The two most common explanations are that the child benefit was not in her name, or that she paid a “married woman’s stamp” that deprives you of the right to receive these loans.

As you say it never worked, the most likely explanation is that the child care was in your name. If so, you can apply for a loan transfer in her name.

You can find more information on how to do this here.

Finally, if after all this your wife still lacks the 10 years she needs to receive any pension, you may want to consider paying NI voluntary contributions to achieve 10 years of age.

This can be especially appealing if she lacks just a year or two. Even if it now exceeds the 10-year mark, there may be an opportunity to replenish the pension at attractive rates.

As an example, suppose your wife has 9 years of contributions or loans and is entitled to a zero state pension. In 10 years she will suddenly get 10/35 of the full rate or around £ 2,750 a year.

One year of NI voluntary contributions (Class 3) currently costs just under £ 825, so you’ll get your money back in a few months.

If you had the extra money, each extra year of contributions (£ 825) would add another 1/35 of your wife’s pension – around £ 275 a year – and could also be a very good price.

Ask Steve Webb a question about retirement

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is the uncle of “It’s the Agony of Money.”

He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, quitting your job or juggling your retired finances.

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

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

Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a future column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or personally correspond with readers. Nothing in his answers is regulated financial advice. Published issues are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daily contact number in the message – this will be confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.

If Steve can’t answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-supported organization that provides citizens with free retirement assistance. It can be found here and its number 0800 011 3797.

Stevee gets a lot of questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the equivalent of a contract pension. When you write to Steve on the subject, he answers a typical reader question here. It includes links to several of Steve’s previous columns on government pension projections and contracting, which may be helpful.

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