DWP publishes expat pension guidance ahead of Brexit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that the UK state pension will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement in new guidance examining the rights for UK nationals after the UK has left the EU.

The guidance confirmed that UK nationals living in an EEA state or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK state pension will be uprated every year that an individual continues to live there, regardless of whether the pension was claimed after 1 January 2021.

The government previously confirmed that British citzens living in Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein would have their pension up-rated after public concerns were raised.

Those working in the EEA or Switzerland will also be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for the UK state pension.

However, those who move to an EEA state or Switzerland following 1 January 2021 may not be covered by the withdrawal agreement, meaning that any future entitlements, such as getting the state pension uprated, will be dependent on the outcome of negotiations with the EU and “may change”, though those who meet qualifying conditions will continue to receive the UK state pension.

This also follows an initiative by the government to reassure EU expats last year, which saw letters sent to over 363,000 UK pensioners living in the EU.

Commenting, Aegon pensions director, Steven Cameron, said: “Up to a quarter of a million UK nationals who retired in other European countries will be celebrating this week as the government has confirmed they are eligible for the same uplift in their pension as retirees back home in the UK.

"The triple lock guarantee means that those receiving the State Pension will see their weekly payments increase by 3.9 per cent from April this year. As part of the government’s withdrawal agreement, reciprocal rights for state pensions have been agreed, so that those living abroad will see the same increase as those paid in the UK.

“The DWP also confirmed that this provision may not necessarily be extended to those moving to the EEA state or Switzerland from 1 January 2021. The entitlement to UK benefits for those people are dependent on future negotiations with the EU and may well be subject to change."

The DWP has advised those living in, and paid benefits by, the EEA or Switzerland will need to confirm with the individual organisations that pay them to confirm if any further action is needed to continue receiving pension payments.

The guidance also emphasised that annuity or pension providers in the UK should have already made plans to ensure that individuals can receive payments after the UK has left the EU, pointing to the industry guidance previously published by the Financial Conduct Authority.

No changes are expected to impact the payment of UK workplace pensions after the UK has left the EU.

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