As long as you have contributed to the LGPS at some point since 1 April 2008 your cohabiting partner, of either the opposite or same sex, with whom you have not entered into marriage or formed a civil partnership will be eligible for a survivor's pension in the event of your death subject to certain conditions being met.
What are the conditions that make a cohabiting partner eligible for a survivor's pension?
For a cohabiting partnership to be valid your surviving partner will need to evidence or declare at the point of your death that:
i) Your cohabitation had been continuous for at least 2 years prior to the date of death;
ii) Both you and your cohabiting partner were, and had been, free to marry each other or enter into a civil partnership with each other;
iii) You and your cohabiting partner had been living together as if you were husband and wife or civil partners;
iv) Neither you or your cohabiting partner had been living with someone else as if husband or wife or civil partners; and
v) Either your cohabiting partner was financially dependent upon you or you were financially inter-dependent upon each other.
Can you clarify the term "free to marry or enter into a civil partnership?"
Basically anyone who is already married or who has already entered intro a civil partnership, is not free to marry or enter into a civil partnership with their cohabiting partner. There are also restrictions placed upon a person marrying or entering into a civil partnership with certain close relatives e.g. parent, brother or sister, grandparent, uncle or auntie, niece or nephew.
If either you or your partner were married to, or had entered into a civil partnership with, another person and that marriage or civil partnership has not been dissolved, even though you were living in an "unmarried" partnership, a cohabiting partner's survivor's pension cannot be paid. If the marriage or civil partnership is has not been dissolved, your legal husband, wife or civil partner will be entitled to survivor's benefits upon your death and not your cohabiting partner.
What do you mean by financially dependent of interdependent?
Under HM Revenue & Customs rules an occupational pension scheme can only pay a pension to a person who is financially dependent upon you or where you are both financially interdependent on each other. We will regard your partner as dependent if you had the highest income. We will regard you as being interdependent where you relied upon your joint finances to support your standard of living.
What will my surviving cohabiting partner receive?
If you die before you reach retirement age your partner will become entitled to a long-term cohabiting partner's pension. The amount of the pension will be based on your scheme membership to the date of death plus an enhancement as if you had worked to your normal pension age.
If you die after retirement a long-term cohabiting partner's pension becomes payable based on a fraction of the value of your own pension at the date of your death.
Your cohabiting partner's long-term pension is fully inflation proofed and payable for life.
At the time of your death it will be necessary to establish that the rules regarding the payment of a cohabiting partner's pension are met. It is never easy to ask for information when a person dies but we have to do this to determine that an entitlement to survivor's benefits still exists. You and your partner should be aware that this will happen.
It will still be necessary for your partner to provide evidence that you had been cohabiting for 2 years prior to your death and that you met all the conditions detailed above.
We may ask for confirmation that you had lived in a shared household with shared household spending. Your partner may be required to demonstrate that you had a bank account or mortgage in joint names. It may be that you and your partner had made wills, or had taken out life assurance, naming each other as beneficiary. This is the sort of evidence that we may seek. Your partner would have a right of appeal it we decided not to pay a pension and your partner believes that an entitlement exists.
What do I do next?
Since 1 April 2014 it has not been necessary for a Scheme member to nominate a cohabiting partner for a survivor's pension. However, you may wish to have this information recorded on your pension record so please contact us on 0845 6027237 or firstname.lastname@example.org