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How much is the state pension for a married couple?

Tim Heming
Written by  Tim Heming
Jonathan Leggett
Reviewed by  Jonathan Leggett
5 min read
Updated: 22 Mar 2024

Working out how much money you will need to fund your future as a couple when you stop work is an important consideration. Our guide looks at how much you might receive through your pensions.

There are various ways to fund your retirement in the UK. These include drawing on savings and investments, downsizing your home or releasing equity, and state and private pensions.

Understanding how much you might be entitled to in each case can help you plan effectively to ensure you and your spouse are financially comfortable in your later years.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) have released the Retirement Living Standards, stating the income you may need in retirement.

This is grouped into 'minimum', 'moderate' and 'comfortable' lifestyles for single people or for couples.

Couples would need a combined income of £43,100 for a moderate retirement lifestyle.

What are the pension options for married couples in the UK?

Pension options for married couples in the UK include a combination of the state pension and any workplace or private pensions you may have built up during your working life.

Pension pots are built up by individuals, but you are able to pay into your spouse’s pension and the proceeds can be also shared. Our guide to the different types of pensions available may help further.

older man using laptop

How much state pension will a married couple receive in 2024?

The full rate for the new state pension for individuals from April 2024 is £221.20 a week.

The qualifying period for the full state pension is 35 years of national insurance contributions, which would result in a married couple receiving a combined state pension of £442.40 per week.

This is an increase of 8.5% from last year, under the so-called ‘triple lock’, which guarantees that each year the state pension will rise by the highest of three measures: average earnings, inflation, or 2.5%.

There are no longer any special state pension arrangements for married couples, meaning each individual in a marriage or civil partnership needs to build up their own state pension.

Our guide to how the state pension works provides more information.

Are there any benefits to having a pension as a married person?

As well as the income it allows you to draw, a main benefit to having a pension when you are married is that upon your death, your spouse may be entitled to survivor benefits from your pension.

Survivor benefits can include…

  • Spouse's pension. Some pension schemes offer a portion of the deceased spouse's pension income to the surviving spouse, providing ongoing financial support in retirement

  • Lump sum payment. In some cases, the surviving spouse may receive a lump sum payment from the deceased spouse's pension scheme, providing immediate financial assistance

  • Inheritance of pension funds. The surviving spouse may inherit the remaining pension funds of the deceased spouse, allowing them to continue to benefit from the pension assets in retirement

Can I get a joint pension with my spouse?

Pensions are in individual names, so there is no married pension scheme you can contribute to.

However, at 55 (rising to 57 in 2028), you can use retirement savings to buy a joint annuity, providing lifetime income to a designated dependant, usually a spouse.

You decide what percentage of the annuity they'll receive, up to 100%.

This choice means a lower initial income compared to an annuity solely for yourself and the risk is that if the designated dependant passes away first, your lifetime income reduces.

What happens to my pension benefits in the event of divorce or separation?

If your marriage ends in divorce, the pensions of your ex-spouse and yourself form part of the marital estate, which should be split equitably between you.

Various factors will be taken into consideration to form a legal agreement. These include age, lifestyles and care needs and may result in pension pots or income being split or weighed up against assets such as property or other investments.

If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the decision may have to go to court.

Our guide to pensions and divorce provides more information.

Are there any tax considerations for pensions for married couples?

There are several tax considerations on pensions for married couples in the UK. These include:

  • Marriage allowance. Couples may benefit from the marriage allowance, which allows a portion of one spouse's unused personal allowance to be transferred to the other spouse, potentially reducing tax liabilities. The standard personal allowance for the 2024/25 tax year is £12,570. This isn't just a consideration for pensions. Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner.

    This reduces their tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year). To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must normally have an income below your Personal Allowance and your partner pays Income Tax at the basic rate.

  • Pension contributions. Pension pots are built up by individuals, but you are able to pay into your spouse’s pension, benefiting from tax relief on contributions up to certain limits. When contributing into a spouse's account, contributions need to be paid from a joint account or the spouses individual account. The personal annual allowance is now set at £60,000

  • Pension income. Pension income is subject to income tax, and couples may need to consider the most tax-efficient way to withdraw pension funds, such as spreading withdrawals over multiple tax years or utilising tax-free lump sums. In most cases, up to 25% of the total value of your pension can be withdrawn tax-free

  • Inheritance tax. In most cases pension assets are exempt from IHT, however there are certain exemptions which apply. Whether you pay tax usually depends on the type of payment you get, type of pension pot and age of the pension pot’s owner when they died. Find out more at

What happens to pension benefits in the event of one spouse’s death?

When one spouse dies, the fate of their pension depends on the type of pension and any specific arrangements made.

For state pensions, the surviving spouse may be entitled to receive bereavement benefits, including the Bereavement Support Payment, depending on their circumstances. You usually need to make a claim within 21 months of your partner’s death.

In terms of private or workplace pensions, if the deceased spouse had a defined benefit pension, the surviving spouse may receive a portion of the pension as a widow's or widower's pension.

If the pension is defined contribution, the remaining funds might transfer to the surviving spouse's pension pot or be used to purchase an annuity providing them with ongoing income.

A pension from a defined benefit pot can usually only be paid to a dependant of the person who died, for example a husband, wife, civil partner or child under 23. It can sometimes be paid to someone else if the pension scheme’s rules allow it - but it will be taxed at up to 55% as an unauthorised payment. Find out more at

Alternatively, the deceased spouse may have opted for a joint-life annuity, ensuring that their pension income continues to be paid to their surviving spouse after death, albeit often at a reduced rate.

It's important for couples to understand their pension arrangements and consider the implications for the surviving spouse's financial security.

Before you transfer a pension, you could ask yourself some questions to see if it’s the right thing for you. Find out more.

Other useful guides

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