The government is overhauling the date couples can receive pension age benefits so they will only be payable when the second person in the couple reaches retirement age, rather than the eldest as now.
The rules come into force from 15 May 2019 and mean that couples will no longer be able to choose to claim pension age benefits as soon as the older partner of the couple reaches state pension age.
When the rules were first announced in 2012, the government argued that this was a modernisation of the system, rather than an austerity measure to cut pension benefit costs and would bring couples into line with single people moving from working age to pension age benefits.
Mixed age couples with a partner under state pension age already in receipt of pension credit or pension-age housing benefit at the point of change will be unaffected while they remain entitled to either benefit.
If a mixed age couple claims working age benefits, the pensioner partner will not be subject to work-based conditionality. Any work-based conditionality for the younger partner will be tailored to meet their circumstances.
Under current law, the state pension age will increase to 67 from 2020, with the likelihood this will continue to rise in the future, to 68 between 2037 and 2039 from the current 67 years for anyone born after 6 March 1961. This will be introduced seven years earlier than originally envisaged, although this is subject to change.