BENEFITS EXPERT: Will my wife get a pension increase?

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I will get may State Pension next August. My wife already receives hers but only gets £50.16 a week because she was paying the ‘small stamp’ for National Insurance. Will she get an increase when I reach pension age?

Under current rules someone can claim a State Pension based upon their own National Insurance record or the record of their spouse.

To receive a pension based upon their spouse’s National Insurance, both partners must have reached State Pension age.

There will be changes to the State Pension rules from April 6, 2016. One change means that people reaching State Pension age on or after that date will only be able to claim a State Pension based upon their own National Insurance, not that of a spouse.

As your wife is already over State Pension age the current rules apply to her. When you reach State Pension age she will be able to claim a State Pension based upon your National Insurance record. This applies even though you will be reaching State Pension age in August, after the date of change.

The pension that your wife will be entitled to, based on your National Insurance will be 60% of the basic State Pension that you have earned up to April 6, 2016. She will be entitled to an increase in her current pension if this pension is more than she has qualified for on her own National Insurance. She gets whichever of the two is greater.

Therefore, if you have at least 30 qualifying years of National Insurance prior to April 6, 2016, she will be entitled to a basic State Pension of about £71.58, which is £21.42 more than she currently receives.

I am 66 and single with a weekly income from pensions of £163.40 a week with no savings to speak of. I receive full Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and my award letter from the council tells me I might be entitled to Pension Credit.

But would there be any point if it only led to me losing some of the help I receive with my rent and Council Tax?

You are entitled to maximum Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit because your income is below £166.05 a week.

You are also entitled to Savings Credit of £9.94 a week.

This would count as part of your income for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit purposes, making your total income £173.34 a week.

As this is above £166.05 a week your Housing Benefit would reduce by £4.73 a week and your Council Tax Benefit by £1.45 a week, leaving you just £3.76 a week better off overall.