1987 Police Pension Scheme
Adult survivors under the 1987 Police Pension Scheme include widows, widowers and civil partners but not cohabitees who were not married or in a civil partnership.
Since 5 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.
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 5 April 1988.
A widow’s ordinary pension is calculated on the uncommuted amount of the Police Pension under Schedule C of the Regulations
Differing contribution rates
Prior to 1 September 1992 men and women in the PPS 1987 paid different contribution rates, which resulted in different entitlements to survivor benefits. A male PPS 1987 member paid 11% and this counted towards a survivor pension for his wife. A female PPS 1987 paid 8%, but there was no survivor pension for her husband.
Barber v Guardian Royal Exchange (1990)
Following the European Court of Justice’s 1990 decision in the case of Barber v Guardian Royal Exchange5 survivor pensions for widowers (male survivors of heterosexual marriages) of PPS 1987 female members were introduced. However, only service from 17 May 1990, the date of the Barber decision, was automatically counted towards widowers’ pensions.
Widowers’ Guaranteed Minimum Pensions
Prior to 6 April 1997 the PPS 1987 was “contracted out” of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS), which meant that members paid lower national insurance contributions. In return the PPS 1987 had to guarantee that its benefits were as at least equivalent to what a member would have received under SERPS and these equivalent benefits were known as Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs). Widowers’ GMPs were provided for from 6 April 1988 and so female members of the PPS 1987 received a GMP for widowers’ benefits from 6 April 1988 to 17 May 1990. Full widowers’ pensions only applied for service from 17 May 1990, in accordance with the Barber judgment. To try and level the playing field, female members of the PPS 1987 have had various opportunities to buy-back their pre-17 May 1990 service by paying additional pension contributions so that it could be counted towards their survivors’ pensions (some of which are detailed below).
The Civil Partnership Act 2004
The Civil Partnership Act (CPA) 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005 and, broadly speaking, provided civil partners with the same pension entitlement as spouses. The CPA allowed for the backdating of survivor pension entitlements to 6 April 1988, the date from which a widowers’ GMP provision was required. However, this provision only took into account the GMPs required by law for service between 6 April 1988 and 5 December 2005. For service from 6 April 1988 to count towards a full widower’s or civil partner’s pension a female member would have to have bought-back that period of service. Prior to the CPA 2004 coming into force, any female PPS 1987 member in a same sex relationship would have had no reason to buy-back this service, as only opposite sex spouses could qualify for a survivor pension. In order to equalise pension rights for civil partners, female officers were given an opportunity in 2006 to buy-back service from 6 April 1988 to 17 May 1990.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
This Act provided for same sex couples to be able to marry and have the same rights as marriages of opposite sex couples. In order to implement these rights amendments were made to the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 (which govern the PPS 1987) in 2014.
As part of these amendments female PPS 1987 members were given another opportunity to buy-back pensionable service from 6 April 1988 to 17 May 1990 for the purpose of increasing survivor benefits.
The NPPS 2006 (and subsequently the Police Pension Scheme (PPS) 2015) was not affected by this Act as all of a member’s service in those pension schemes already counts towards their survivor’s benefits.
Walker v Innospec Ltd (2017)
In the 2017 case of Walker v Innospec Ltd.2, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Walker’s male spouse was entitled to a pension based on all the years of his pensionable service with his employer Innospec Ltd. (rather than it being limited to service from 5 December 2005, the date on which the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force), provided that at the time of Mr Walker’s death he and his husband remained married.
Following the Walker judgment, the Home Office had to ensure that the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 complied with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Home Office has now amended the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 to reflect the Walker judgment. This means that:
• The survivor pension of a male officer’s wife will continue to be based on all of the member’s pensionable service (as has always been the case).
• The survivor pension of a male officer’s same sex spouse or civil partner will be based on all of the member’s pensionable service (as a result of the Walker ruling).
• The survivor pension of a female officer’s husband will continue to be limited to the member’s pensionable service from 17 May 1990 (as a result of the Barber ruling), subject to any elections made to buy-back pre-17 May 1990 service.
• The survivor pension of a female officer’s same sex spouse or civil partner will continue to be limited to the member’s pensionable service from 17 May 1990 (as a result of the Barber ruling), subject to any elections made to buy-back pre-17 May
• 1990 pensionable service. However, to implement the rights for same sex spouses created by the Walker judgment female members of the PPS 1987 have been given another opportunity to buy-back service prior to 6 April 1988 .
Opposite-sex civil partnerships
The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019, SI 2019/1458 came into force on 2 December 2019, which permit two persons of the opposite sex to enter into a civil partnership.
These regulations will affect both private sector pension schemes and public service pension schemes.
By allowing opposite-sex civil partners to receive the same benefits as opposite-sex married couples, the regulations are expected to increase pension liabilities in defined benefit schemes. Having said that, there is uncertainty over the estimated take-up of opposite-sex civil partnerships, with some commentators expressing the belief that marriage will usually remain the preferred choice for any opposite-sex couple who wants to commit to each other.
One group of survivors that has not been helped by the Regulations are cohabitants.
Amount of Entitlement
A pension for a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, normally of half of the officer’s pension entitlement. It ceases on remarriage, or on the formation of a new civil partnership or cohabitation.
A pension is not payable to a surviving cohabitee who was not married to nor in a civil partnership with the officer.
2006 Police Pension Scheme
Survivor Benefit Entitlements under the New 2006 Police Pension Scheme are different than those in the 1987 PPS in that:
Adult survivors can include spouses, civil partners and unmarried partners who are not civil partners.
All adult survivor awards are payable for life, irrespective of whether the survivor remarries or forms a new partnership. If the adult survivor is also a member of NPPS he/she is still eligible for an award.
2015 Police Pension Scheme
When you die, your ‘survivors’ (which include your spouse, civil partner, a declared partner who is not a civil partner and eligible children) may be entitled to receive benefits.
The benefits which may be payable will depend on:
- whether you die as an Active Member, a Deferred Member or a Pensioner
- whether you die after you leave the police force or after you opt out; and
- the length of Qualifying Service at the date of your death.
If you have opted out or have left the police force at the date of your death, any
survivors’ benefits would be based on any Deferred Pension to which you were
entitled at the time
Under the 2015 Scheme all adult survivor pensions are payable for life, irrespective of whether the survivor remarries or forms a new partnership. If the adult survivor is also a member of the 2015 Scheme he/she is still entitled to payment of an adult survivor’s benefit.
Post Retirement Marriages
In 1978 pension provision was made for widows of post retirement marriages and The widow of a police pensioner – who has service since that date is entitled to a pension regardless of when the marriage occurred, but such a pension is only based upon contributions since April 1978.