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Following the announcement by the MOD on Saturday 8 November 2014 we have been asked what this will mean for War Widows/Widowers.


When someone dies who is serving or has served as a Member of the Armed Forces their surviving spouse / partner may receive two payments.  The first is an occupational pension that will be paid / that is paid under rules in place at the time they served and will be based upon the length of their service and rank

Where the death of the service spouse or partner is accepted as being the consequence of their service in the Armed Forces a second payment may be made.  This will come under one of two Schemes:

[1]    The War Pension Scheme which applies where death is due to events that occurred before 6 April 2005.  The date of the actual death does not determine under which Scheme payment is made, it is the date of the events which caused the death which dictates

[2]    If the events occurred after 6 April 2005 the payments are made under the terms of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme [AFCS]

The issue the War Widows Association of Great Britain sought to address was that:

  • A War Widows Pension paid when death was caused by events before April 1973 was paid for life – no matter whether the recipient remarried or cohabited and
  • Payments made under the AFCS where events occurring after 6 April 2005 caused the death were also paid for life no matter whether the beneficiary remarried or cohabited  

  • But those whose War Widows Pensions were paid where the events causing death occurred between April 1973 and 6 April 2005 had to surrender their War Widows Pension if they remarried or cohabited

The War Widows of GB Association felt strongly that this was unfair and that all these payments should be for life – no matter if the surviving spouse / partner remarried.  We believe that the announcement on 8 November 2014 redressed this discrimination

The Scope of the Change:  As new legislation never has retrospective effect the change will apply only to those who are receiving the pension when the new legislation comes into force in April 2015.  The exact date is not yet clear

Those who have already given up the pension as a result of remarriage or cohabitating will not have it reinstated.  We understand this seems a significant gap in the campaign – but the principle that legislation cannot have a retrospective effect is common to all Laws and Government departments, it is not unique in this campaign and could not have ben achieved

[NB    With grateful thanks to the War Widows Association of Great Britain for the above information]

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