BENEFITS EXPERT: Why is my husband’s pension more?

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My husband and I have both recently retired and receive the State Retirement Pension. We both worked full-time for all our lives and I paid full National Insurance. I have a works pension of £480 a month.

Even though we each have almost identical work records and earned the same wages, his state pension is about £25 a week more than mine. Is this right?

I am afraid it is only the Pensions Service who could give you a reliable explanation of how the individual parts of your State Pensions have been worked out. The State Pension consists of two main parts. One part is the basic State Pension which depends upon the number of years during which the person has paid a certain level of National Insurance Contributions.

 These are called ‘qualifying years’ and under current rules the person will be due the standard basic State Pension of £115.95 a week if they have at least 30 qualifying years.

The other part of the pension is earnings-related and depends upon the value of the person’s Contributions. This part of the pension may be paid by the Government or by the person’s employer. How much it is will depend upon a variety of individual circumstances.

I think it most likely that both you and your husband have at least 30 qualifying years and qualify for a basic State Pension of £115.95 a week. The amount of the additional earnings-related parts of your pensions will depend upon the Contributions you have paid and how much pension comes from your employer or the Government. Your annual statement from the Pensions Service which will shortly be due will contain a breakdown of the individual parts of your pensions.

I own two properties. One I own outright and my son lives there rent free. The other I am buying on a mortgage for which I receive a rent of £480 a month. I live alone in social housing and pay rent of £400 and Council Tax of £67 a month. I have a works pension and disability benefits. Someone has told me I could be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Is this correct?

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are means-tested and depend upon the person’s income and capital.

 Capital incudes the value of savings and property which the person does not occupy.

A person in your situation cannot receive these benefits if their capital exceeds £16,000.

I am therefore afraid that the value of your properties would put your capital above the level where you would be eligible.