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Unmarried Pension rights

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Unmarried Pension rights

Old 8th Feb 2017, 10:34
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Unmarried Pension rights

I see an interesting case has been reported by the BBC re Pension rights of an unmarried partner in a public pension. There could be important implications for many service personnel in this.

OAP
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 09:53
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You have suggested that yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on an unmarried woman’s pension rights may now read across to AFPS 75 (such rights already exist under AFPS 05 and 15). We are taking advice on this and also asking the MOD if they intend to make any formal changes to the scheme in the light of this. The issues are very similar in that they are about the rights of unmarried partners, but the technicalities and the actual rules involved are different, - so it is not safe to make any assumptions. We will issue updates on our website as they become available
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 12:49
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"We"? "Our website?"
Who are you, the Mysterons?
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 14:19
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Forces Pension Society - www.forcespensionsociety.org
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 14:33
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That's great! One can pick up a Thailand dolly, marry her, get blasted out of your brains for two years and when you croak she picks up a full widow's pension.

Airline tickets are quite cheap.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 16:01
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I thought this was solved after the Brad Tinnion/Op Barras episode?
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 16:24
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No, I think that was a ex gratis payment to avoid a precedent. I don't think the payment matched that of a pension either.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 21:38
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The ruling was about schemes that say you have to nominate an unmarried partner for them to be entitled to a survivor pension - that is, in schemes which provide unmarried partners' pensions. AFPS 75 does not give pensions to unmarried partners, except where the death is due to service. On the face of it, no read-across here.

AFPS 05 and 15 do provide pensions for unmarried partners but they do not need to be nominated. Their entitlement is based on the fact that they are living with the member and that there is evidence of financial dependence or interdependence. Again, no read-across.
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 09:24
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I have been living with my partner for 20 years how do I nominate her for my pension?


Many thanks


Mole Man
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 10:17
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Mole Man,

Contact your pension provider and ask if they provide unmarried partners' pensions. If so, they should be able to send you a nomination form which you can complete, sign and return.
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 20:39
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Stopstart, you made yourself look pretty foolish there.

Vox, always nice to see a post that shows you are all over it!!
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Old 11th Feb 2017, 13:55
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Aside from the provisions of AFPS 05/15, is this a dangerous precedent for those that choose to co-habit as a lifestyle choice rather than marry?

The lack of a "common law wife" provision in law is, i am sure, a part of many peoples future planning.

Is this being eroded bit by bit?
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Old 11th Feb 2017, 16:58
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Having read the Judgement, I think the impact itself will be much more narrow than initially suggested. A "cohabiting partner" means a person whom the appropriate administering authority/trustees are satisfied fulfils the following condition:

(a) the person (A) has fulfilled the condition for a continuous period of at least 2 years on the date the member (B) died, and
(b) the condition is tható
(i) A is able to marry, or form a civil partnership with B,
(ii) A and B are living together as if they were husband and wife or as if they were civil partners,
(iii) neither A nor B is living with a third person as if they were husband and wife or as if they were civil partners, and
(iv) either B is financially dependent on A, or A and B are financially interdependent.

In other words, no new pension right. I don't think this could ever be interpreted as creating a new pension right for co-habiting partners where such a right is not already provided in the particular Scheme's Deed/Regulations and both 05 and 15 do. Especially so as AFPS75 already affords rights to those who lost a pension scheme member partner in the event of conflict, and it seems a no brainer that that will be amended retrospectively, especially as the scheme was (I believe) at the forefront of public sector change back in 2003 - a change brought about through fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With specific respect to this case though, the judge ruled that the process for a nominations form could be relied on to provide the veracity of a claim, but not the lawful appropriateness of it. The ruling stipulated that it was still necessary to establish that a genuine relationship existing between the scheme member and their partner, but that it was not accepted that (a specific JPA-esque) nomination in addition should be required 'which might further hinder the evidential process in any way'. In other words, the court held that if the requirement for a nomination form to be completed was strictly to test the truthfullness of a claim that the relationship was stable and long-lasting, that would be a different matter. But it was not claimed or tested in this instance.

In effect, if nomination was not required of a married survivor of a scheme member and if the overall aim of the amended regulations was to place a surviving cohabitant who was in a stable, long term relationship with the deceased scheme member on an equal footing with a surviving spouse or civil partner, the need for a nomination procedure would not be required. And this is where Northern Ireland was tested - on the discriminatory nature of the comparisons - not on any moral issue. Like many, I can count numerous examples of girlfriends being brought back from sunny climes and spouses being discarded but still being found in favour of, rightly, by AFPS scheme trustees. So, the precedent for testing the process is already three.

This is interesting because it will have an impact on Defined Contribution schemes and on a wider scale, DB schemes trustees will be viewing this through two prisms. On one hand, they'll be shuddering at the extra cost this undoubtably will mean, but on the other, it offers them a sliver of hope. DWP has recently proposed a wide raft of sweeteners - scrapping some of the guarantees that scheme members currently 'enjoy'.

One of those which have arisen (out of Tata) suggests that access to survivor benefits will be more generally available, but those benefits, in themselves, won't be as generous. Already, there have been moves afoot for schemes to no longer have to provide an income to a member's spouse if they die, and/or would no longer having to increase payments each year in line with inflation. To achieve this, Government would consider allowing employers to 'override' the protections in their pension schemes so they can impose these changes. We live in interesting times..!
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Old 11th Feb 2017, 18:02
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Cheers Al! I also wondered if the "discriminatory" words might signal that a wider definition of "unfair" legal restrictions or scheme restrictions might become open to legal challenge?

OAP
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