Tell us a Civil Service pension scheme member has died

When a pension scheme member dies, their loved ones may be entitled to benefits. These could include a:

  • death benefit lump sum
  • widow’s or widower’s, child’s, partner’s or civil partner’s pension
  • widow’s or Widower’s Pension Scheme (WPS) refund
  • payment of any pension that was due to be paid when the member died (also called residual pension)

If the pension scheme member was retired and receiving a pension at the time of their death, please get in touch as soon as possible to avoid any overpayments being made:

You can speak to our specialist team by calling 0300 123 6666 

If the member was not receiving their pension, you can inform us using Government’s Tell Us Once service. As part of that process, most government departments would also be informed. We will then post the relevant claim forms to those dealing with the estate and any named survivors entitled to a dependant pension.

Step by step guide to claiming death benefits

Use Government’s Tell Us Once service or contact us directly to tell us someone has died.

Please note: if the member was receiving a pension at the time of their death, please tell us as soon as possible to prevent us from overpaying their pension. If we do need to reclaim overpayments from their estate, this will not impact on payments of dependant pension benefits, or delay any dependant benefit claim where we have received a valid claim form. See Step 2 - Claim Forms below for more information.

Once we have been informed of the member's death, any pension payments that were being made to the member will cease.

We'll then invite you to apply for a dependent pension, which may include a Widow(er)'s*, Partner's, or Dependent Child's pension. We'll do this by posting out the relevant claim forms to the personal representative and anyone entitled to dependant's benefits.

Alternatively, you can complete and return a Dependant Pension Claim form with any supporting documents requested in the form.

You may also be entitled to a:

  • death benefit lump sum
  • widow’s or widower’s (WPS) refund
  • any pension payment that was due to be paid when the member died, known as Residual Pension.

Complete and return a Death Benefit: One-Off Payments form with any supporting documents requested in the form.

*Please note: if the member had service in classic, you may be eligible to receive any short-term increase (sometimes referred to as a 91-day uplift).  This will be calculated as part of your benefits under the Widow(er)'s Pension, if you're eligible. Find out more in our downloadable guide on How to Claim Death Benefits.

Complete the forms and send them back to us with the documents requested on the form.

We will review your forms and if we need any more information to proceed, we will contact the relevant person.

Once we receive any outstanding information, we will calculate and pay any benefits due. This usually takes around 10 days to finalise.

Claiming a widow’s, widower’s or civil partner’s pension

If a Civil Service pension member dies, we may pay a pension to their surviving widow, widower or civil partner. This will be paid for life unless the member was in the classic pension scheme and the surviving widow, widower or civil partner re-marries or enters into a new partnership or civil partnership. The pension would then stop.

The amount of pension will depend on which pension scheme the member was in when they died. Find more information in the relevant pension scheme guide.

A child’s pension

We will pay a pension to a child who was financially dependent on a pension scheme member when they died. The age a child’s pension will usually stop once the child is 17 or 18, depending on which pension scheme the member was in. Read the scheme guides for more information.

A child’s pension may be paid until 23 if they are in education or vocational training. If they are physically or mentally impaired and, in the opinion of the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA), their impairment is permanent, the pension will be paid for life.

This could be the member’s:

  • natural child
  • adopted child
  • any other child who was receiving financial support from the member at the time of their death.

We will pay a child’s pension if the child is either:

  • under 17 (if the member was in classic) or under 18 (if the member was in classic plus, premium, nuvos or alpha)
  • aged between 17 and 23 (if the member was in classic) or 18 and 23 (if the member was in classic plus, premium, nuvos or alpha) and in full-time education or vocational training
  • unable to work because of a permanent physical or mental impairment.

If more than 1 child meets the criteria, we will split the pension equally between them.

A partner’s pension

You may be able to apply for a partner’s pension if you were living together in an exclusive, committed, long-term relationship with a member of:

  • classic plus
  • premium
  • nuvos

You cannot claim a partner’s pension if there is a legal reason you couldn’t marry or enter a civil partnership with the member. For example, if one of you was married or in a civil partnership with someone else. You will also need to provide evidence that you were either financially dependent on the member or you and the member were financially interdependent.

Death benefit lump sum

A death benefit lump sum may be paid if:

  • a member dies whilst in service
  • a member dies after leaving service, but before claiming their pension
  • a member of the classic pension scheme dies within 2 years of fully retiring
  • a member of the classic plus, premium, nuvos, or alpha pension scheme dies within 5 years of fully retiring.

A widow’s or widower’s (WPS) refund

Members of the classic or classic plus pension schemes will have paid widow’s or widower’s pension scheme (WPS) contributions for some or all of their working life.

We may refund these contributions if the member was:

  • in service or had left service but had not claimed their pension when they died
  • was unmarried, divorced, or widowed whilst they worked for the Civil Service and remained so until they died.

Residual pension

As we pay pensions monthly, a pensioner may die before we can pay them their next pension payment. If this happens, we will pay any pension due to the member, to their personal representative.

If we paid the member’s pension after they died, there may be money owed to the scheme from the pensioner’s estate.

Tax on Death benefits

You may have to pay tax on death benefits under certain circumstances.

Find out more about tax on death benefits

6 December 2021
Last updated:
9 April 2024