From 1 April 2015 all survivors’ pensions awarded to armed forces spouses and civil partners will be for life.
Those already in receipt of a survivor’s pension will be entitled to keep their pension for life if they decide to remarry, cohabit or form a civil partnership after this date.
Previously, some may have had to surrender their pensions upon such changes in their circumstances.
The decision highlights the government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant by recognising the difficulties many partners of armed forces personnel face in earning their own occupational pensions, often due to having to relocate their homes within in the UK as well as overseas.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
It’s vital that we do right by those who put their lives on the line for their country – that’s why this government enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant in law.
These changes reflect the huge commitment which service families make to our country.
We recognise that the unique nature of service life has left widows, widowers and surviving civil partners of members of the armed forces at a disadvantage.
The changes, which apply to members of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 (AFPS 75) and the War Pensions Scheme, will allow those who qualify after 1 April 2015 to retain their armed forces pension for life – regardless of whether the AFPS 75 member’s death was caused by service or whether the surviving partner remarries or cohabits.
The Forces Pension Society and the War Widows’ Association, which sought to harmonise pension rules from 1 April 2015, have welcomed the move.
This change will come into force in conjunction with the launch of the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 15.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a key commitment of this government. It was introduced into law to ensure that personnel and veterans, and their families, do not suffer disadvantage due to service.