The 1975 Social Security Act required all occupational pension schemes to introduce pensions for widows who married their husbands after they retired from service. The change was introduced in April 1978 for future service only. The change for widowers was not introduced until April 1989. Widows of men who joined the armed forces after April 1978 and widowers of women who joined after 1989 are not affected by this issue and are eligible for pension benefits in respect of their entire service.
The Government Actuary confirmed a figure of £50 million to extend benefits to all post-retirement widows and widowers in the armed forces pension scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) as part of the review which led to the introduction of the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004. This figure should not be viewed in isolation: if the concession were to be made for affected members of AFPS 75, there would be pressure to extend it across other public sector pension schemes at an estimated cost of between £300 million and £500 million.
The cost for AFPS 75 represented the total capitalised value of future widows' and widowers' benefits which would be payable if marriages after leaving service were treated on the same basis as if the marriage had taken place in service. The value has been assessed using data relating to membership of pensioners and deferred pensioners of AFPS 75 and marriage patterns adopted for costing the scheme as a whole.