Denise Brewster lost her long-term partner, Lenny McMullan whom she had been cohabiting with for over 10 years, they had brought their home together and were planning on getting married.Mr. McMullan had worked for over 15 years for Translink, who provided him as one of his benefits an occupational pension, two days after getting engaged, at the age of 43, Mr. McMullan died suddenly.
As Mr. McMullan and Miss Brewster were not yet married, and Mr. McMullan had not completed a nomination form to say whom he wanted his occupational pension to go to should he pass away. Ms. Brewster was denied access to this pension. Had they been married at the time of his death, Ms. Brewster then being his wife would have had an automatic right to a share of his pension.
Denise Brewster to the case to court, as she said it was a discrimination and breach of her human rights. They had both paid into the pension scheme for years, and Mr. McMullan would have been horrified to think that she had no right to any of the benefits simply because they had not married before his death. After a long battle, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Denise Brewster was entitled to receive funds from her late partner’s pension scheme.
Hopefully, this will pave the way for co-habbitees being recognised more after their partner’s death. It also shows how important it is to make sure that you nominate your partner for your company death in service benefits and any death benefits that your company pension offers.