Tens of thousands of women could still be underpaid state pension

People need to check their pensions are correct says Steve Webb

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The National Audit Office recently criticised the DWP after it was discovered that 134,000 people had been paid the wrong amount of state pension for years, due to decades of maladministration which has mainly impacted women. It now appears that even more people have been paid the incorrect amount of state pension, with women once again the primary victims.

Those affected are being tracked down by the department as of writing, and will pay them back the amount of money they are due as a result of the error.

On average, people who were impacted by the DWP’s mistake could get £8,900 back, as well as receiving a boosted pension for the remainder of their life.

But the scandal has not stopped there, as the National Audit Office has now revealed there are three other groups of retirees who are not being paid enough state pension, but who the DWP is not looking for.

Some older married women, divorced women, and people over the age of 80 could have been impacted and therefore missed out on the pension they were entitled to. This only applies to the old state pension, i.e., the one paid to claimants before April 6, 2016.

Anyone affected must put in a claim in order to get their missing pension, as the DWP has said it has no responsibility for the underpayment, as they say no error was made and that people should have claimed at the right time.

When the old state pension was drawn up, it was common for women to work part-time after getting married, or give up work altogether. Those who did work were encouraged to pay reduced National Insurance contributions, which subsequently did not earn them any state pension.

That meant that many women ended up with no entitlement whatsoever, but they became eligible for a pension of roughly 60 percent of the full pension after their husband reached 65, based on his NI contributions.

However, some married women had actually paid some full National Insurance contributions, before they got married for example, and were therefore entitled to their own once they reached the age of 60.

Free bus pass and free prescriptions could be affected due to state pension age changes [INSIGHT]
Government to scrap free NHS prescriptions for over 60s – Three things you MUST do now [WARNING]
Winter Fuel Payment dates for 2021 as bills soar in fuel crisis [ALERT]

If that amount of pension was smaller than a married woman’s pension then it should have been topped up to the 60 percent rate.

However, if one’s husband was born before March 17, 1943, and therefore became 65 before May 17, 2008, this additional amount of pension was not automatically paid. Women had to claim it themselves, and it has been estimated that tens of thousands of women never did.

Fortunately, this additional state pension can still be claimed now, if one meets certain criteria. Married women who were born on May 16, 1948, or earlier, whose husband was born on May 16, 1943, or earlier and whose state pension is less than £82.45 a week can claim now.

For women who were born after May 16, 1948, or have a husband who was born after May 16, 1943, do not need to claim, as the DWP should track them down before the end of the year 2025.

Women who were once married but have since divorced can also claim under these circumstances. A divorced woman is able to use her ex-husband’s NI record for all the years before their marriage ended instead of her own, if she discovers that would give her a better pension.

Anyone who remarried before state pension age will have lost that right, but women who remarried after reaching state pension age can still take advantage of this.

However, this additional pension is not given automatically. One must request it either when claiming their state pension, or when getting divorced for women over the state pension age. This rule applies equally to divorced men as well as ex-civil partners.

The full criteria to be able to claim additional pension as a divorced person is that they must not have remarried before reaching state pension age and their current basic state pension must be less than £137.60 per week.

Claimants may be able to get their state pension topped up to a level of £137.60 a week, but some people may get a lower amount if the total of their contributions and your ex’s contributions add up to less than is needed for a full pension.

The DWP is also trying to identify people who are over the age of 80 and receive a state pension of less than £82.45 a week as they wish top up their pension to that amount. However, people who get no state pension at all will be missed out by this search.

People who are over 80 and receive no state pension can still claim the over-80s state pension, which is £82.45 per week. People who lived in the UK when they turned 80 can apply, even if they have since moved abroad.

People looking to claim can do so by calling the Pension Service on 0800 731 0469.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Married women whose husbands became entitled to a State Pension after them, but before 17 March 2008, are required by law to make a claim for an uplift in Category BL State Pension. The law limits the backdating for this group to a period of 12 months – this is a long-standing element of social security law.”

Source: Read Full Article