Coleraine woman challenges ruling that she is not entitled to survivor’s pension

Denise Brewster, who has been denied payments from her late long-term partner's occupational pension. Photo by John Aston/PA Wire
Denise Brewster, who has been denied payments from her late long-term partner's occupational pension. Photo by John Aston/PA Wire

A woman denied payments from her late long-term partner’s occupational pension is the victim of “serious discrimination”, a QC has told the Supreme Court.

Denise Brewster from Coleraine is at the UK’s highest court to challenge a ruling that she is not automatically entitled to a “survivor’s pension” as she would if married.

Ms Brewster and Lenny McMullan lived together for 10 years and owned their own home.

They got engaged on Christmas Eve 2009, but Mr McMullan died suddenly on Christmas night.

Mr McMullan had for 15 years been working for Translink and paying into its local government pension scheme. Under regulations, unmarried partners only receive a survivor’s pension with an “opt-in” clause.

The High Court here allowed Ms Brewster’s legal challenge against the refusal, but the Court of Appeal overturned. Now the Supreme Court must make a decisive ruling.

Helen Mountfield QC, representing Ms Brewster, said the nomination rule was having “a seriously discriminatory effect”.