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Could my wife and I inherit our late parents' unclaimed pensions? Steve Webb replies

Unclaimed pensions: Those who believe they are entitled to inherit a parental pension can complete an online form and the DWP will search

Could my wife and I inherit our late parents’ unclaimed pensions? What are the rules and how would we do that? Steve Webb responds

A few months ago I read an article saying that children could inherit their late parents’ unclaimed pensions, or part of them, after their death.

Although I read the article and understood the mechanics, I can’t find it anymore and I wonder if it’s 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 the legacy of pensions.

Unclaimed pensions: Those who believe they are entitled to inherit a parental pension can complete an online form and the DWP will search

Unclaimed pensions: Those who believe they are entitled to inherit a parental pension can complete an online form and the DWP will search

As far as I know there is no information on any government website.

Was the article correct that children could inherit unclaimed parental pensions – and if so, what are the rules and how do you do this?


Steve Webb responds: There are very limited circumstances in which a child may be able to receive an inheritance based on their late parent’s state pension, and I will explain them below.

But typically the only other person who can benefit from state pension contributions is a spouse or civil partner, and even those rights are being phased out.

The first case in which a family member could receive an inheritance based on a parent’s National Insurance contributions is when the parent has deferred applying for their state pension and died before 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 the parent does not have a surviving spouse and dies after having deferred the payment of his legal pension, his estate is entitled to three months’ pension. You can read more details here.

Any claim should be made relatively soon after the person dies – you cannot go back and claim a deferred state pension that was never received.

Also note that this information only relates to cases where the deceased person reached retirement age before 6 April 2016 and was covered by the “old” public pension system.

The second case, and the one I believe you are referring to, is where you believe your deceased parents (or in-laws) may have received an underpaid state pension due to the errors we have pointed out to several times on This is Money in in recent years.

The good news is that DWP recently created a website that allows people to file information about the deceased. They will then check to see if there was an error and make a payment to the estate if an error is discovered. You can save the details here.

As you’ll see, the site reviews the types of situations in which people may have been underpaid (for example, a woman whose state pension was not reassessed when her husband died).

It also sets out the information you will need to provide, including full name, date of birth, date of death, last known address and details of any spouses. If you have National Insurance Number details, this will help speed up the process.

While this website is a useful tool and saves people the hassle of having to call one number and contact the right person, there are a few words of caution I should add.

The first is that the DWP may dispose of the records a few years after a person’s death. As a general rule, if a person’s NI record is still “in use” (for example, a husband is deceased but his widow is claiming a pension based on her contributions), the record will be kept, but once it is no longer no longer used, it usually be phased out after about four years.

This means that people whose loved ones died many years ago may find it now impossible to verify, based on official records, whether someone was underpaid.

The second word of warning is that DWP would be keen to avoid “fishing trips” where everyone puts details of family members on the site in case there might be some right.

In order to ensure that people who may have a genuine right can have their claims dealt with effectively, I encourage anyone using this site to read the information and only submit details if you believe a loved one might be fell into the categories described.

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

Ask Steve Webb a question about retirement

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony’s uncle.

He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you’re still saving, quitting work, or juggling your finances in retirement.

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

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at

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

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

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that offers free pension assistance to the public. He can be found here and his number is 0800 011 3797.

SteveWe get a lot of questions about state pension forecasts and about COPE – contracted pension equivalent. If you write to Steve on this subject, he answers a typical question from a reader here. It includes links to several of Steve’s previous columns on state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.

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