Hogan Lovells

Key Dates

Determination given on 16 August 2018.


The Pensions Ombudsman has rejected a complaint that payment of a nominated partner's pension, rather than a (higher) widower's pension, constituted unlawful discrimination.


Mr R was the male partner of Dr K, a female member of the Teachers' Pension Scheme. They cohabited for many years but never married.

The Scheme introduced widowers' pensions from 1988 and nominated partners' pensions from 1 January 2007. Nominated partners' pensions were calculated by reference to service from 2007, with members having the option to purchase cover for their previous service back to 1988. Dr K nominated Mr R but did not purchase backdated cover.

Dr K died in 2011 and Mr R was awarded a nominated partner's pension, calculated by reference to Dr K's reckonable service since 2007. Had Mr R been Dr K's widower, he would have received a widower's pension calculated on 38 years of reckonable service.

Complaints to the Ombudsman

The then Ombudsman rejected a complaint by Mr R in 2012, taking the view that Dr K had been given adequate information by Teachers' Pensions about the death benefits payable.

The Supreme Court gave judgment in Brewster on 8 February 2017, holding that the requirement for a cohabiting unmarried partner to complete a nomination form as a condition of eligibility for a survivor's pension amounted to unlawful discrimination, because there was no similar requirement for a married or registered civil partner, and the discriminatory effect could not be objectively justified.

The Ombudsman accepted a further complaint by Mr R as a new complaint, because the judgment in Brewster had not been handed down at the time of his previous complaint.

Ombudsman's determination

The Ombudsman rejected Mr R's complaint.

Date Accessed: 03/12/2021