Citizens Advice Salford.

Women may be owed £3 billion in underpaid pensions:

Many thousands of married, divorced, or widowed women have been underpaid by the government in their state pensions. The government has recently published its estimate of the scale of this problem in its full budget papers – and it’s putting aside the best part of £3 billion in case everybody is found or makes a claim.

The problem has been caused by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) not recognising all the women where an uplift on their pension was due by virtue of the contributions their husbands made to pensions. The old rules allowed for women to rely on their husband’s pension contributions to help build their own pensions.

The women affected will have been born before 6 April 1953, and most likely to be widows, married or divorced, and those over the age of 80.

These women who were married and had reached state pension age before April 2016.

Many women had gaps in their national insurance records or had been paid the specially reduced ‘married women’s stamp’ and might have reached pension age with limited pension entitlement in their own rights.

The systematic mistake by the DWP has been raised by the pensions consultancy, Lane Clarke and Peacock (LCP). They have identified six groups of women who may have been affected.

The DWP has said that it is checking its records but, if you think you have been affected you should make contact with them to ask for your pension to be reviewed.

  • Married women whose husbands turned 65 before March 17, 2008 if you never claimed an uplift to 60%.
  • Widows whose pension was not increased when their husband died.
  • Widows whose pension is now correct, but they may have been underpaid while their husband was still alive. Especially important if your late husband reached 65 after 17 March 2008.
  • Over 80’s (men and women) who are receiving a basic pension less than £82.45 a week but who passed the residency test when they turned 80.
  • Widowers and heirs of the women affected. Where the women has now died, but she was underpaid in her pension whilst she was alive.
  • Divorced women (particularly those who divorced post retirement).

The company LCP has created an online calculator, and has the more detailed explanation of the problem of it’s website at: https://www.lcp.uk.com/media-centre/2021/04/are-5-159-women-sitting-on-a-quarter-of-a-billion-pounds-windfall/ 

And online calculator at https://www.lcp.uk.com/is-your-state-pension-being-underpaid/

If you think you may have been affected, then you should contact the DWP and ask for a review of your pension.

Telephone: 0800 731 0469

Textphone: 0800 731 0464

Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 731 0469.

The Money Saving Expert website estimates that the problem could affect around 200,000 women, and involve an average underpayment of £13,500. (Which is based on the government’s estimation of the cost of correcting the problem.)

There is also a piece on the BBC’s website about the problem that you should look at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56654665.

Don’t forget you may also be entitled to a top up element through Pension Credit. This is the means tested top up for pensions. This tops up your income to £177.30 a week if single and £270.30 a week if you have a partner. About 4 out of every 10 people who are entitled to Pension Credit do not claim it. You can use the same numbers above to make a Pension Credit Claim.

Tom Togher

Salford Citizens Advice 

April 2021.