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Why Decoupling is good news for couples

Yet again changes to State pensions have been introduced without anybody being aware but the difference is this time that it’s good news for some.

Most people are probably aware that a married woman who hasn’t made sufficient National Contributions herself can still qualify for a State pension based on her husband’s National Insurance contributions.

This pension is known as the Dependent’s Additional pension and for 2010 it is £58.50 per week.

Until recently the problem was that she couldn’t begin to receive this until her husband claimed his pension from the State – so she couldn’t claim it if her husband was under 65 or if he had deferred taking his State pension.

Yet again changes to State pensions have been introduced without anybody being aware but the difference is this time that it’s good news for some.

Most people are probably aware that a married woman who hasn’t made sufficient National Contributions herself can still qualify for a State pension based on her husband’s National Insurance contributions.

This pension is known as the Dependent’s Additional pension and for 2010 it is £58.50 per week.

Until recently the problem was that she couldn’t begin to receive this until her husband claimed his pension from the State – so she couldn’t claim it if her husband was under 65 or if he had deferred taking his State pension.

However this has changed with the Pension Act 2007 with the result that, effective from April 2010, as soon as the married women reaches State pension age she can begin to claim this Dependent’s Additional pension even if her husband has deferred taking his State pension.

What’s more, she can backdate her claim to 5th April 2010 which, for some women who have reached age 60 but have little or no State pension of their own and whose husband is 65 or over, could mean a windfall payment of more than £1,500.

This is more commonly known as “decoupling” and also applies the other way round (i.e. husband can claim off wife’s NI record) and to Civil Partnerships.

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