UK - A one-off payment to the dependant of an SAS soldier killed on duty has averted a test case on pension sharing for non-married partners.
But the £20,000 payout by the Ministry of Defence (MoD)has been criticised by pension lawyers. They point out that earlier this year MPs made changes to their own scheme – the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund – which gives pension sharing rights to dependants outside of marriage.
This, though, has not been extended to other public sector schemes.
Scottish Equitable pensions development manager Margaret Craig said: “Public sector schemes are less likely to pay out than private schemes and this is because the government has not made changes to policy.
She added: “If financial interdependency can be proved then in practice schemes should pay out the same as if couples were legally bound.”
Simmons and Simmons assistant solicitor Kirsty Bartlett said that MoD dispute was resolved “at the same time that ministers were given equal rights for their pensions outside of marriage.”
Bartlett added: “I know many companies have modernised the rules of their pension schemes to allow for partner’s pensions rather than just widows’ pensions.”
An EU directive for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation, which will address pension rights for cohabiting spouses, is due to come into effect in 2003.
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