My wife/partner has never paid any National Insurance contributions.

I thought that women who stayed at home would receive some of their husband’s pension when they retired. But I’m now alarmed to learn that changes to the system mean she could now retire with nothing. Is this correct?

From April 2016, a new flat-rate state pension will be introduced that will pay individuals an estimated £151 a week.

However, your wife/partner is one of a generation of women who stayed at home to look after children or never had REAL employment. In the past, these women would have been able to receive a payout based on their husband’s National Insurance Contributions (NICs). But for those retiring under the new system this is no longer automatically guaranteed.

Her first step is to get a state pension forecast at or by calling 0845 3000 168.

Under the current system, married women who stayed at home have been able to receive a payout of their husband’s pension despite having paid little or no NICs.

Many married women who worked also fell into this group and paid a much lower rate known as the Married Women’s Stamp.

However, from next year this system will be scrapped. Everyone will be instead responsible for building up their own National Insurance record. You must have 35 years of NICs to qualify for the full amount and a minimum of ten years to receive any at all.

Your wife has been left in limbo.

The Government has put in place a temporary safety net for people like her. She will be entitled to receive 60 per cent of your pension under the new system.

But there is a caveat. She must have paid at least one year of lower-rate Married Women’s National Insurance in 35 years leading up to her state pension age.

If your wife doesn’t qualify like this, all is not yet lost. Even if your wife has never gone to work, she still may qualify for some pension of her own but may not realise it.

Women who stopped work to look after a child under 16 or under 12 since 2010 are credited with a year of National Insurance for each year they have done so.

You don’t need to do anything to receive the credit, only to have claimed child benefit.

Also, remember that if between you, your joint weekly income is below £226.50, you may also be able to claim pension credit. This will top up your savings to this amount. Call the Pension Credit Line on 0800 99 1234.