Unmarried woman wins appeal over late partner's pension

A woman who was denied payments from her late partner's occupational pension because they were not married has won a legal battle to have the decision overturned.

The landmark case could see pension scheme rules changed for unmarried couples.

Denise Brewster, from Northern Ireland, challenged a ruling she is not automatically entitled to a "survivor's pension" as she would have been if the couple had been married.

Ms Brewster and her partner Lenny McMullan lived together for 10 years and owned their own property.

The couple got engaged on Christmas Eve in 2009 but Mr McMullan died suddenly a day later.

Lenny had worked for Northern Ireland's public transport provider Translink for 15 years and payed into Northern Ireland's local government pension scheme.

Under the current rules if the couple had married Ms Brewster would automatically have shared Mr McMullan's pension.

But instead the rules state unmarried partners only receive a pension if they both complete a form to "opt-in". The couple had not completed the required paperwork.

Ms Brewster who is in her early 40s argued in the Supreme Court that the requirement to "opt in" was in breach of the Human Rights Act.

Five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled she is entitled to receive payments under the pension scheme.

Other pension schemes could now change their rules for unmarried couples as a result of this ruling.