HC Deb 25 February 1991 vol 186 cc396-7W
Mr. O'Hara

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the relative entitlements of(a) a widow who has paid full national insurance contributions for 35 years and then becomes unemployed and (b) a widow in the same position who has never paid national insurance contributions.

Mr. Jack

The information is as follows:

Widow (a)

If claims and satisfies conditions, payable rate of unemployment benefit reduced by amount of widows benefit (excluding additional pension).

Widow (b)

Not entitled to unemployment benefit. May be entitled to widows benefit based on late husband's contribution record.

Both have possible entitlement to income support, housing benefit and community charge benefit.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for how many years an individual has to pay full national insurance contributions to qualify for a state pension(a) in full and (b) other specific categories of pension.

Mr. Jack

To qualify for a 100 per cent. category A basic retirement pension a person must have paid full rate contributions for approximately nine-tenths of their working life. The working life is normally calculated as 49 years for a man and 44 years for a woman, but is reduced in certain circumstances, such as where home responsibilities protection applies. If the contribution record is insufficient to give the full rate, basic pension may be paid on a pro-rata basis at rates varying between 25 per cent. and 100 per cent. Below 25 per cent. no basic pension is payable.

Other specific categories of retirement pensions are category B for a wife, widow or widower derived from their spouses contributions and calculated on a similar basis and categories C and D non-contributory pensions for elderly people, which have a residence rather than a contributory requirement. Further details on the entitlement conditions for all state retirement pensions can be found in leaflet NP46, which is available in the Library.