Lawyer issues pension warning

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Hundreds of ex-spouses of servicemen and women across the south west could be missing out on pension payments from the Armed Forces, according to regional law firm Stephens Scown.

With recent changes to pension sharing legislation, large numbers of divorced men and women in the region may not realise that they could claim entitlements at the age of 55 – up to ten years sooner than previously allowed (65 years old).

According to Andrew Barton, family lawyer with Stephens Scown, there are potentially hundreds of people who are financially worse-off because they don’t know that they could benefit now.

He said: “It could easily be the case that many men and women who’ve received a pension sharing order against their ex-spouse’s Armed Forces scheme will be unknowingly eligible for an earlier payment. Depending on when the pension sharing order was made, this could be a valuable and significant source of extra income for many men and women.”

Pension sharing allows the courts to transfer a pension or part of a pension between divorcing spouses. It operates through the scheme member’s pension being debited by a specified percentage, which is then credited into the other spouse’s name.

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme etc (Amendment) Order 2009 has now reduced the age at which members are entitled to their pension from 65 to 55, provided the pension sharing order was made after 6 April 2009. Those with orders before this date are also entitled to have their payment dates brought forward to age 55, but they need to specifically ask for this to happen.