What will happen to my pension in the event of my death?
When you die, your survivors (which can include your widow, widower or civil partner and children) may be eligible to receive benefits from PPS.
The benefits which may be payable will depend on whether you die in service or after you retire and on the length of your pensionable service at the date of your death. More details are given in this Section.
Lump sum death grant
If you die while serving, provided you were a member of PPS at the time of death (and had not opted out), a lump sum death grant of twice annual pensionable pay will be paid to your surviving spouse or civil partner. If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, it will be paid to your personal representative – usually the executor of your will – and thus form part of your estate. If you work part-time, the lump sum will be twice your annual pensionable pay as a part timer.
If you die as a result of an injury on duty or die within 12 months of receiving an injury on duty as a result of that injury, your spouse or civil partner (or child or dependent relative) may be entitled to a gratuity under the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. This does not form part of the pension scheme.
Gratuity - estate
If, when you die, the various awards payable under PPS (excluding the lump sum death grant) are less than your total pension contributions, an extra award equal to the balance of those contributions will be paid to your estate.
Adult survivor awards
Adult survivors under the PPS include widows, widowers and civil partners but not Co-habitees who were not married or in a civil partnership. Since 5th December 2005, same sex couples have been able to have their relationship legally recognised. The Civil Partnership Act allows same sex couples to make a formal, legal commitment to each other by forming a civil partnership. A couple in a civil partnership are treated in much the same way as a married couple. A widow or widower is the person to whom an officer was legally married when he or she died. A surviving civil partner is the person with whom an officer had formed a civil partnership when he or she died. A former spouse or civil partner is not eligible to receive an adult survivor’s pension. There are differences in the way in which service is counted for the purposes of awards to widows, widowers and civil partners.
A widow is entitled to a pension based on all the deceased officer’s pensionable service if she was married to an officer before he ceased to be a regular police officer and was married to him when he died. A widow who married after the officer’s retirement will be entitled to a pension based on the officer’s service after 5th April 1978 only.
If an officer dies in service, or after retirement while receiving a PPS pension, the widow will normally be entitled to a widow's ordinary pension if the officer had at least three years’ pensionable service. If the officer joined after 1st April 1972, the widow will be entitled to a half-rate pension (i.e. half of the officer’s gross pension, before commutation). Otherwise, the widow's pension will depend on whether the officer opted to up-rate his pre-April 1972 service. This could have been done by paying a lump sum, paying additional pension contributions until the completion of 25 years' service; or by the officer taking a reduction in his own pension.
If an officer retired with entitlement to a deferred pension, his widow will normally be entitled to an accrued pension, irrespective of whether or not the deferred pension was being paid. If the officer joined after 1st April 1972, this accrued pension would normally be half of the officer’s deferred pension.
For the first 13 weeks of widowhood, a widow's pension will be increased so that, together with any child allowances payable, it will equal the deceased officer’s pensionable pay (and rent or housing allowance, if any) for the week before he died (if he died in service) or the weekly amount of his pension (if he died while receiving a PPS pension). An accrued pension cannot be increased, however, if the deferred pension was not in payment.
Widowers' ordinary, special, augmented and accrued pensions are payable in the same way as for widows except that the award is a standard entitlement in respect of a woman officer's service only after 16th May 1990. Service before that, from 6th April 1988, provides only a guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) for a widower (see Section 12.3.1 for an explanation of GMP). A widower’s pension is increased for the first 13 weeks in the same way as that for a widow. Female officers had the opportunity to decide whether to up-rate their service so that it attracted a half-rate widower's pension before 17th May 1990, in 1994, 2003 and 2006.
Civil partners’ awards
The benefits available to widows and widowers including rights to ordinary, special, augmented and accrued pensions and the 13 week increase, are paid in the same way to civil partners, except that the entitlement only applies to service completed after 5th April 1988.
Changes in circumstances which affect survivor awards
If your surviving spouse or civil partner later remarries, forms a new civil partnership or cohabits, the pension will stop (or be reduced to only the pensions for any children). But it may, on application, be restored at the discretion of the police authority if the second marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation comes to an end.
On divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, a former spouse or civil partner’s claim to a share of a pension will be assessed on the strength of the officer's pension rights as a whole. If you are concerned about the possible effect of matrimonial proceedings on your pension, you should obtain legal advice.
If you die in service or when you are receiving a PPS pension, or after you have left the police service with an entitlement to receive a deferred PPS pension, children’s pensions will be payable to your legitimate or adopted children, but not to the children (including step-children) of a marriage which took place in retirement, nor to children adopted in retirement. The same awards are payable to your children regardless of whether you are a male or female officer. Please see the Family Benefits Section for details.
Whether your children meet the conditions for an award depends on their age. If they are aged 16 or over, a pension is not payable unless they are in full-time education or training, or substantially dependent on you at the time of death. The definition can include: stepchildren, adopted and illegitimate children. If you die after leaving PPS the children must have been substantially dependent on you both at the time your service ended and at your death.
Any children’s pensions which become payable on or after 6th April 2006 will cease at age 23, unless the child is dependent on you by reason of disability at the date of your death. More details of whether your children would be eligible for an award are given in the tables at the end of this section. The types of award are considered below.
Child's ordinary allowance
A child's ordinary allowance is generally 18.75% of your ordinary, short service or ill health pension (if such a pension was payable) or otherwise your notional ill-health pension (see Section 6.2). Where more than two child allowances are payable, they cannot exceed 37.5% of the pension. Where the child is an orphan, the amounts are increased to 25% and 50% respectively.
Child's accrued allowance
A child's accrued allowance is generally 18.75% of your deferred pension, irrespective of whether or not the deferred pension was in payment. Where more than two child allowances are payable they cannot exceed 37.5% of the pension. Where the child is an orphan the amounts are increased to 25% and 50% respectively.
Child’s pension: increase for the first 13 weeks
If, after your death, there is no widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner's pension payable a child’s pension is increased for the first 13 weeks so that it will equal your pensionable pay (and your rent or housing allowance, if any) for the week before you die (if you die in service), or the weekly amount of your pension (if you die while in receipt of a pension). Your child's accrued pension will not be increased, however, if you have a deferred pension which is not in payment at the time of your death.