You may have seen the recent news that thousands of people have been underpaid by the State Pension. If it’s affected you, it could mean you’ll receive a lump sum and higher State Pension payments in the future. Read on to find out more and how you can check if you’re owed anything.
The State Pension error was first raised by a pension consultancy firm last year. It is the result of complex rules around women’s entitlement under the old State Pension system.
Under the old system, women were entitled to 60% of the basic State Pension their husbands received once they reached the State Pension Age. While women could build up a State Pension in their own right, many had gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record or paid a reduced “married woman’s stamp”. As a result, some women may have retired with little State Pension entitlement of their own. Instead, they relied on their entitlement to their husbands’. But errors mean this hasn’t always happened.
The issue may also have affected widows and divorced women. Widows can substitute their own NI record for their husband’s and qualifying for 100% of the basic State Pension if their husband had a full record. Divorced women could use their ex-husband’s NI record up to the point they split up.
Are you owed some State Pension?
If you’re a woman born before 6 April 1953, you should check to see if you’ve been affected. In most cases, the error has affected women over the age of 80 that are married, divorced, or widowed.
The amount those affected will receive in compensation will depend on their circumstances:
- If your husband reached State Pension Age after 2008, the pension top-up should have been automatically applied. However, an error in the system means some pension boosts have been overlooked. If this has happened to you, you will receive backdated payments, plus interest.
- If your husband retired before 2008, you needed to have claimed to receive an enhanced pension. You should have received a letter from the government informing you, but many women say they didn’t receive this. In this case, it will be treated as a new claim for a pension and backdated for just a year. It could mean you lose thousands of pounds.
The average payout is expected to be around £13,500. Some will receive much more than the average. According to a Guardian report, one woman received just 86p a week from the State Pension for more than 12 years and is now owed £42,700.
If you think you’ve been affected, you don’t need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions; they will notify you. However, you may still want to understand if you’re owed something and factor this into your financial plan. If you think your State Pension has been underpaid, you can contact us. We’ll help you make sense of your State Pension and other assets.
What is the government doing to fix the error?
So far, the government has only provided an estimate of the scale of the issue. However, the Department for Work and Pensions expects to pay compensation to tens of thousands of people. It’s estimated the total cost will be around £3 billion.
While the government is taking on more staff to create a dedicated team to resolve the issue, those affected could be waiting until 2023 for an answer. It may take even longer to receive repayments. So, even if you have been affected, it may be some time until you hear from the government and receive the money due.
Keeping track of your State Pension
Even if this error doesn’t affect you, it’s a reminder of why it’s important to understand what you’re entitled to and how you’ll create an income in retirement. The State Pension isn’t enough for most retirees to live on alone, but it provides a foundation. Even a small reduction in the State Pension each week can affect your retirement plans.
You can check your State Pension forecast here, but the rules can be complex and it’s easy for mistakes or miscalculations to occur. We’re here to help you understand your State Pension and how it can provide for you alongside other assets you may have, such as workplace pensions, savings or investments.
If you’d like to discuss your retirement and income, please contact us.
Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.