Reinstatement Of The War Widows’ Pension

The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain call upon the government to reinstate the War Widows’ Pension for all widows who were required to surrender their pension on remarriage or cohabitation.


  1. There are a number of compensation schemes available to UK serving and former serving personnel who are injured as a result of their service in the armed forces. The scheme that applies to each individual will depend on when and where they served. The schemes may also compensate surviving partners where the death is attributable to service.
  2. The War Pensions Scheme compensates a surviving spouse/partner where death has been caused, worsened or hastened by service in the Armed Forces before 6th April 2005. (The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme compensates where death was as a result of service after 6th April 2005.)
  3. The Association was founded in 1971 as a campaigning organisation and has a history of which it is truly proud. Following our successful ‘Pensions for Life’ campaign the Association welcomed the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 8 November 2014 that all war widow/ers in receipt of their war pension on 1st April 2015 would retain this for life.
  4. However, we recognise that a small number* of War Widows who had already remarried or co-habited fell outside the announcement; they are rightly aggrieved and feel disenfranchised. Those that remarried or cohabited between 1973 and 2005 were required to surrender their War Widows’ Pension on remarriage or co-habitation; while the Association appreciates that this was the law at the time we recognise that it is a bad law, absolutely wrong and must be amended.
  5. Successive governments have argued that discretionary improvements to benefits from armed forces pension schemes should generally not be applied retrospectively. The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain is not calling for any change to the law to be introduced with a retrospective element. The War Widows’ Association are calling for reinstatement from the earliest date possible for this small number of war widows; this would be a progressive forward-thinking step and would ensure equality and fairness for all war widows in line with the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant.
  6. The War Widows’ Association continue to campaign to ensure that all War Widows and War Widowers are treated equally and fairly. We take every opportunity to engage with Government, influential individuals and groups. The Association is proud to be recognised as the UK’s leading representative organisation for widow/ers of armed forces personnel where death of a spouse/recognised partner has been attributed to their service.
  7. Clarification on reinstatement:-
    a. If your spouse died or left Military or War Service before 31 March 1973 and you also receive the War Pension Scheme Supplementary Pension you keep your War Widows’ Pension for life.
    b. If you were widowed after 5 April 2005 and receive Survivors Guaranteed Income Payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme you keep your War Widows Pension for life.
    c. From 1st April 2015 if your spouse died, left Military or War Service after 31 March 1973 and before 5 April 2005 and you were in receipt of a War Widows Pension on that 1st April 2015, you keep your War Widows’ Pension for life.
    d. However, if your spouse died or left Military or War Service after 31 March 1973 and before 5 April 2005, and you remarried or co-habited you were required to surrender your War Pension or Compensation; to date this group do not receive their War Pension or compensation.
    e. The War Widows’ Association believes this to be unfair and outdated.
  8. Precedents for reinstatement have already been established.
    a. The Scottish government confirmed that that the changes apply to those husbands, wives or civil partners of police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty who have already had their pension withdrawn. They will be entitled to payment of their pension again from today, 5th October 2015. http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Widow-and-widower-pensions-reinstated-1ded.aspx#downloads;
    b. The Northern Ireland Assembly approved legislation which meant that from 1st July 2014, RUC widows would retain their pensions if they remarried. Initial legal advice indicated that only those widows covered by the 1988 pension scheme would be eligible. The Department following further advice confirmed that widows previously in the 1973 scheme are also entitled to the reinstatement of their pensions.
  9. *We estimate the figure to be between 200 and 300 War Widows.

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32 Responses to Reinstatement Of The War Widows’ Pension

  1. karen dooley says:

    i am one of these war widows, my husband died 1/11/94 remarried 29/06/04 please keep me updated as wrote to MOD last year stating unfairness and received dissapointing reply thankyou

    • WWA says:

      The Association continues to campaign on reinstatement and many other issues that impact on War Widows and War Widowers. Trustees hold regular meetings with Government Ministers and other influential individuals. Members of the Association are kept updated via Courage and on the website. Details on becoming a member can be found at https://www.warwidows.org.uk/get-involved/become-a-member/.

  2. chris ireland says:

    I am delighted this is been looked into, my husband was killed in 1979 serving in the RAF and the new rules made me feel his life had not been important.

    • WWA says:

      Thank you Chris. We continue to campaign on reinstatement and many other issues that impact on War Widows and War Widowers

  3. Marion Cozens says:

    Can you please tell me where I stand here.
    My late husband died in December 1963 and I re-married in January 1972, I do not seem to fall into any of these categories. The only time my date of death is mentioned is
    i.e. If your spouse died or left Military or War Service before 31 March 1973 and you also receive the War Pension Scheme Supplementary Pension you keep your War Widows’ Pension for life”

    of course I do not receive the War Pension Scheme Supplementary Pension as I had to surrender my Pension in 1970 due to cohabiting with my present husband and then married him in 1972. I am baffled by all these changes in the rules.

    • WWA says:

      Thank you for contacting the War Widows’ Association. War Widow/ers in receipt of their War Widows Pension on 1st April 2015 retain it for life, if you had already surrendered your War Widows’ Pension on remarriage or cohabitation prior to that date your Pension was not reinstated; the War Widows’ Association continue to campaign on behalf of these War Widows. As the Association cannot comment on individual cases should you want further information you should contact Veterans UK email veterans-uk@mod.uk or telephone 0808 1914 2 18.

  4. Claire mills says:

    Hi I am one of those widows who surrendered my pension after re marrying I’m 1997. I lost my husband in 1992. I just wondered what what happening with the campaign to have it reinstated.

  5. Mrs Movita Durber says:

    Let us hope that one day all war widows no matter if remarried or living with someone will all be treated equally no matter what they do after being made war widow/widower.

  6. Mrs Movita Durber says:

    The War Widows Association are really the best friend we could have.

  7. Jean Currie says:

    Hi. My husband died in 2004 when my son was 12 years old, having spent 26 years in the Army man and boy. I have a new partner and missed the new rules by only a few weeks. My new partner spent 22 years in the Army himself and we both feel the situation is very unfair

  8. Heather Brown says:

    I also was a War Widow,widowed in 1981-remarried in 1990. So surrendered my pension.But feel discriminated by the new legislation.We still remember our first partner with much pride and respect.

  9. M J Brown says:

    This injustice needs to be addressed.

  10. Janet Fox says:

    I also relinquished my war widow’s pension after I remarried in 1987 and I also feel we are being discriminated by the new legislation.

  11. Eleanor Clenaghan says:

    My late husband died in 1981 from leukaemia having served 12 years in the army. When I remarried, I had to surrender my pension….we are all Forces widows/ers and need to be treated fairly, equally and without discrimination.

    • Jacqueline Rees says:

      My husband died of bowel cancer, he was not serving but in n receipt if his RN pension he served 22 years in the RN.I had the audacity to remarry and lost his pension.I think that all Forces widows/widowers not just War Widows should have their pensions reinstated.I am still in receipt legally of his private pension

  12. Susan Brown says:

    I am also one of the War Widows who’s husband died in June 2004 and I also have remarried, please let me know if I can help out with the campaign to re-instate our war widows pension. I also feel we are being discriminated by the new legislation.

  13. Jean Currie says:

    Reinstatement of the Widows’ pension would help my son enormously, having los his father at the age of 12 and struggled through university with a good degree but eventual student debts of over £30,000. Now even though in a good job has no prospect of ever owning his own home as his father would have aspired to for him and have been able to help him achieve. All the family is affected not just the widow/widower

  14. Jill Mcgookin says:

    I too surrendered my war widows pension on cohabiting. It seems so unfair on just a small minority of widows/widowers … Hopefully the new campaign will be a successful as I also feel discriminated against.

  15. margaret bond says:

    Thank you to the association for supporting us in our fight .Maybe one day,probably not in my lifetime,we may get justiice.

  16. anne machaj says:

    Sadly, my husband was killed in an accident whilst working with the bomb disposal team in 1989. I married again 1995 and had to forfeit my widow’s pension as that was the rule at the time. I recently separated I applied to have my war widows pension restored but was told I have to provide the decree absolute which could take 2 years. It’s quite shameful.

  17. Jean Currie says:

    my husband died from mesothelioma after serving for 26 years, the inquest clearly stated it was caused by his service. I now discover that from April 2015 ex-service dying from this disease or their families could choose to take compensation of £140,000 or a war widows/widowers pension for life. Of course I didn’t receive either as my husband died at the wrong time. It makes me rather annoyed

  18. Maureen Masters says:

    Thank you to the War Widow’s Association for taking up this cause. I, too, lost my pension when I re-married. I am sure many widows are struggling financially; to receive monies lost would surely be of great assistance.

  19. Susan Thomas says:

    Thankyou for all that you do, and for campaigning on behalf of war widows /widowers. My husband died in 1999 at a young age from an illness that was attributed to his service. Having remarried I also relinquished the pension in 2012. The ruling is very unfair and wrong. Please keep up the good work, and thankyou!

    • WWA says:

      Thank you for your kind message Susan. It is much appreciated. If you would like to get involved in any way, you can find details here.

  20. Rose Frost says:

    Thank you for this campaign. I gave up my WW pension on remarriage in 2006. I was an army wife for 25 years before being widowed in 2000. During all those years “on the strength” I was unable to contribute to the Teachers Pension Scheme while working in Germany in service children’s schools after becoming an army wife and “dependent”, despite being able to do so before my marriage as a single UK based civilian. Same school, same class, but treated differently as an army wife. Those rules no longer apply, but I have lost out hugely financially and having to give up my WW pension was, and continues to be, so very unfair.

  21. Melanie says:

    My husband died in 2013 and I am in receipt of a war widows pension, under the new rules my understanding is that I retain it for life is this correct? I am getting remarried at the end of this year but I’m sure the paperwork I received after the changes in 2015 i keep it if remarry. Can anyone help please?

  22. Maria Randell says:

    Thank you to war widows association for campaigning, on behalf of war widows and widowers who had to surrender our pensions when we remarried.
    This is totally unfair that we a small number of widows /widowers, have not had our pensions reinstated,from the date of the new legislation. many thanks for your help.
    Very much appreciated.

  23. Frances says:

    Hi I received FFP when my husband died after 22yrs Naval service. He died in 2007. I remarried in 2014. And had the payment suspended. I am not sure if I fall into the same bracket but I am going to try and write to the Pension Division as I cannot support myself financially again, as I will be reverting back to a single person

  24. Polly Robson says:

    My husband died of mesothelioma in 1981. This was attributed to his service and I received a War Widows pension, together with his RAF pension, for myself and two very young children. All pensions ceased when I remarried in 1984. I believe that I am still a War Widow, and my two children lost their father because of his service. It is blatantly unfair that because of when my dear husband died, I have been treated differently from those widows whose husbands have died more recently. I have written to my MP and received unsatisfactory responses. Please continue your campaign WWA to rectify this awful and unfair situation.

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