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Women urged to check State Pension if they have paid the ‘married women’s stamp’

8 October 2019

Royal London is urging women who paid the ‘married women’s stamp’ at any point in the last 35 years to check that they are benefitting from a feature of the new state pension designed to protect those who paid lower national insurance contributions. 

The ‘married women’s stamp’ was introduced in the 1940s for married working women, allowing them to pay a reduced rate of NICs. This enabled them to claim a partial state pension based on the national insurance record of their husband when he retired.  At its peak, over four million married women paid reduced contributions.

The Married Women’s Stamp was abolished in 1978, but women already paying reduced contributions were allowed to continue to do so and this entitlement stands today. A freedom of information request by Royal London found that 200 women still pay a reduced rate.

But, as a result of the large number of women who paid the reduced rate, the government included a little-known feature in the 2016 new state pension rules, which Royal London has urged women to check.

The new state pension system meant a pension would be based on an individual’s own record of NICs, not those of their spouse as had been the case prior to 6 April 2016.

However, those who paid the Married Women’s Stamp at any point in the 35 years before reaching pension age could continue to make a claim based on her husband’s NI. The rate payable would be the full ‘basic’ state pension of £129.20 if they are now divorced or widowed or £77.45 per week if they are married.

The government has estimated that around 10,000 women could potentially benefit from this concession.

Steve Webb, director of policy, Royal London, said: “It is amazing that in designing a state pension system in the 21st Century, the government had to include special rules to protect women affected by a rule designed in the 1940s.

“It is not widely known that women who paid the reduced stamp at any point in the 35 years before they retired, and who come under the new state pension system, can claim a minimum payment under the new system.  If any woman is getting a substantially reduced amount from the new state pension she should check if she paid the reduced stamp and contact the Pension Service if she is in any doubt.”