Has the NHS pension scheme finally equalised death benefits?

It seems unbelievable that in the past not all partners or ‘significant others’ were viewed equally by the NHS pension scheme for death in service benefits. 

There was a time where additional benefits could have been purchased by a female member, same sex spouses and civil partners to provide additional widowers benefits to equalize those in place for widows of male members. This centered around benefits built up pre-1988 and each group had a timeline where these could be increased.The NHS pension scheme has finally equalized death benefits

Times are changing

Thankfully recent court cases in law Walker versus Innospec Ltd 2017, and the Goodwin versus Secretary of State for Education 2020 triggered an overhaul of the NHS pension Scheme 1995 rules.

New rules have come into place to ensure that pre-1988 benefits accrued by a female member of the NHS are now paid out equally to male spouse survivors, civil male survivors and same sex partners of members of the NHS Pension scheme.  

Who will these ‘new rules’ affect?

Here are some important dates and caveats to note as to who will and won’t be affected:

Pre Dec 5th 2005

This is a key date.  The equalization of benefits will not apply where a female member died before this date.

Post Dec 5th 2005

Should a member have died after this date then arrears will be payable in due course with following caveats relating to when the survivor of the member died, as shown below.

  • If the survivor died prior to April 1st 2019, no arrears payable.
  • If the survivor died after April 1st 2019, then arrears paid to the estate.
  • If the survivor is still living, then arrears are payable.

As a current member or if you are a surviving ‘significant other’ of a member that has died – what should you do?

The answer is ‘nothing’.

The NHS (Business Services Authority) administrator will be identifying members records where the above applies. We have been assured there is no way of hastening certain cases and this process will take some time. 

Any additional payments made by female members will also be refunded back in due course or a lump sum payable. 

Please note only the key dates and timelines have been highlighted above to help towards objectivity.

Clarification of dates:Key dates for NHS death in service benefit reforms

It has taken two consultations to get the NHSPS to this point, but finally voices have been heard and action/compensation has been put in place.  Now it’s just a matter of sitting tight and letting the process do its thing!

As always if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact your adviser – we are here to help.

Have you been affected by survivor benefits misjustice? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


2 thoughts on “Has the NHS pension scheme finally equalised death benefits?

  1. Anthea Davies

    Hi, when I retired in 2009, my “lump sum” was reduced because I had elected in the past to ensure that my spouse would receive the same pension as the surviving partner of a male doctor. Does the new arrangement mean that I will now get that reduction in my lump sum refunded?

    1. Owen Beswick

      Hi there

      The possibility exists with the NHS pension for any member to take a reduced pension (“Allocation”), and in so doing increasing a spouses/partner’s pension if the member pre-deceases the partner/spouse.

      I am not sure that you will be able to claim retrospectively because of the new arrangements.

      I have attached a link that may be useful NHS Pensions Factsheet (V2) 10/2016 (nhsbsa.nhs.uk)

      I hope this helps

      Best wishes, Owen


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