Pension and benefit entitlements for spouse

Following the death of your partner you may be entitled to receive compensation from a number of Armed Forces schemes. Your entitlement depends on a number of factors, so read on to find out.


Deciding factors

  • Whether their death was attributable to Service or not. 
  • Which pension scheme they belonged to.
  • Whether the deceased had paid into an AVC for an increased Death-in-Service benefit (Armed Forces Pension Scheme 75 only).
  • The length of their reckonable service.
  • Your relationship status.

Benefits where death is attributable to Service

When the cause of your partner's death is deemed to be attributable to Service since April 6th 2005, you may be entitled to compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme as well as the Armed Forces Pension Scheme(AFPS). If your partner joined after 6th April 2005 they would have been in the AFPS 2005, if they joined before 6th April 2005 they would have been in AFPS 1975, unless they chose to move schemes.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme – attributable injury or illness on or after April 6, 2005 Armed Forces Pension Scheme 
2005 1975
  • Survivor’s Guaranteed Income Payment - taxable
  • Children’s Payment 
  • £25,000 Bereavement grant to adult dependent of member of AFPS 75 or difference between £25,000 and deceased’s salary if less than £25,000 for adult dependent of member of AFPS 05
  • The benefits are payable to a spouse, civil partner or eligible partner
  • Tax free death-in-service lump sum of 4 x pensionable pay
  • Widow’s pension(taxable)
  • Children’s pension (taxable)
  • The benefits are payable to a spouse, civil partner or eligible partner
  • Tax free death-in-service lump sum of 3 x pensionable pay (unless AVC paid to increase to 4 x)
  • Widow’s pension (taxable)
  • Children’s enhanced pension (taxable) 
  • Short term family pension payable for up to nine months
  • The benefits are payable to a legal spouse or person in an exclusive, substantial relationship with the deceased  

More information

  • If your partner's death was caused by an injury or illness attributable to service before 6 April 2005, go to Widow/widowers and dependants - injury pre 6 April 2005 for information about the War Widow(er)'s pension payable in addition to benefits under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.
  • For more detailed information about benefits payable to dependants under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme go to  Widow/widowers and dependants - Injury post 6 April 2005
  • If you want to appeal against a decision relating to your award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or War Pensions Scheme, you can contact The Royal British Legion, War Pension’s Team
  • For more detailed information about benefits payable under the Armed Forces Pension Schemes, see Military Pensions
  • If you have a query about the payment or administration of your pension, you should call the Joint Personnel Administration Centre on 0141 224 3600 or email

Benefits when death is not attributable to Service

When a Service person’s death is deemed not to be caused by Service, benefits are only payable under the Armed Forces Pension schemes.

For your surviving dependants to qualify for benefits under the Armed Forces Pension schemes, you must have at least two years' reckonable service.

If the deceased was a member of the AFPS 75, the benefits can only be paid to a spouse. Under AFPS 75, your spouse is entitled to a widow/widower's pension even if you are separated. Only a decree absolute ends their entitlement to a pension in the case of your death.

State benefits

State bereavement benefits are paid to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners.  To qualify for a bereavement benefit your late spouse or civil partner must have satisfied the National Insurance conditions for the particular benefit being claimed.

There are three main bereavement benefits:

  • a lump sum Bereavement Payment of £2,000,
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance for a person with dependent children or who is pregnant, and
  • Bereavement Allowance payable for 52 weeks for people who were aged 45 or over when their spouse or civil partner died

War widow(er)s who receive War Widow(er)’s Pension cannot receive Widowed Parent’s Allowance or Bereavement Allowance at the same time, however, you should still make a claim for state benefits as soon as you can.

If you are entitled to War Widow(er)’s Pension, the amount you receive will be adjusted to take into account your state entitlements. You may still receive the lump sum Bereavement Payment if you qualify for War Widow(er)’s Pension

If you receive a Survivor’s Guaranteed Income Payment you may receive state bereavement benefits without any reduction. You should therefore make a claim for state bereavement benefits as soon as possible.

For more information on state benefits see Bereavement and other benefits.

If you need help either with war pensions or claiming state benefits, contact The Royal British Legion, the Veterans UK (formerly SPVA) or SSAFA.