If you have AFPS75 pension entitlements your partner will not be eligible to receive them in the event of your death unless you are married or in a formal civil partnership. We were recently contacted by a non-member; a bereaved woman who had lived with her partner for some 20 years, but who had never married because her ‘partner did not believe in it having both been burnt the first time round’. She wanted to know if we could help make the MOD apply ‘common sense’, by which she meant provide her with a spouse’s pension following the death of her partner. There is very little FPS can do to help in such circumstances. She is not entitled to a pension because she is not eligible under the pension rules.
The MOD is not being heartless, it is applying the rules and it is unreasonable to expect them to do otherwise - they are disbursing public money and are under an absolute obligation to do so in accordance with those rules. The likelihood of the government changing these rules is practically nil because they apply to many older schemes across the public sector, change would be very expensive and has not been budgeted for, there is no legal rationale for a challenge and the impact can be avoided by getting married.
The last is the most significant. If you are affected by these rules, it is of course your shout as to whether or not you marry – but at the very least understand the implications and weigh up what is most important to you, a philosophical objection to marriage or providing for your other half. Sorry if that sounds like a rant – but we see a steady trickle of similar cases, where the implications of a cavalier attitude by one partner about their actions is subsequently visited upon their other half with calamitous results. And in several cases that have come our way it is accompanied by a failure to make a will – which simply compounds the problem
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