MORE than a hundred thousand women have missed out on state pension payments worth an average of £9,000 each after a catalogue of errors going back decades.
The Department of Work and Pensions is contacting the 134,000 pensioenarisse, mainly women, who it believes have been underpaid by a total of £1bn in a process that’s expected to take until the end of next year.
Among that number are 40,000 women who are believed to have already died and whose families have a right to any money they should have received.
The highest individual payout so far is £128,000 for underpayments going back many years.
But on top of these mistakes, which were first uncovered by former pension minister and partner at consultants LCP Steve Webb, he has found numerous other examples of errors in state pension calculations by officials that have cost retirees tens of thousands of pounds.
Here’s how to check whether your state pension payments are correct and claim back any money you are due.
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WERE YOU UNDERPAID?
You might also be owed money if:
- You’re a married woman whose husband turned 65 on or after March 17 2008 and you are receiving less than 60 per cent of his basic state pension.
- You are a widow, your husband died after March 17 2008 and you were getting less than 60 per cent of his basic state pension while he was still alive.
- You are a widow and your state pension did not increase when your husband died.
- You are a man or woman over 80 (whether married or not) who is receiving less than £85 a week.
THOUSANDS MORE COULD BE OWED CASH
On top of the 134,000 cases in which the DWP has identified potential errors, Steve Webb has uncovered numerous other blunders. One divorcee who sought his help found that she had been underpaid by £60,000.
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Most of those owed cash are retirees who didn’t realise they were entitled to extra money based on a change in their circumstances and that they needed to take steps to claim it.
These cases are not part of the DWP’s official correction exercise, so if you think you might be affected, you’ll need to phone the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898 and ask for your pension to be checked
Act now as the government is currently only agreeing to pay up to 12 months of back payments, so the longer you wait the more you stand to lose.
You might be in this group if you reached state pension age before April 2016 and one of the following applies:
- You’re married, your husband turned 65 before March 17 2008 and you are receiving less than 60 per cent of his basic state pension.
- You are a woman who divorced after you reached pension age and you haven’t ever notified the DWP
- You are a man or woman who has as never claimed a pension and are now aged over 80
- You’re married and your basic state pension is zero, but you receive a small amount of additional state pension known as SERPS or graduated retirement benefit.
In addition to these mistakes, the DWP also recently admitted to further categories of pension error following pressure from Sir Steve.
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HOW TO SEEK A REVIEW
If the calculator indicates that you might have been underpaid or you fall into one of the other groups described, call The Pension Service (0800 731 7898) and ask for your state pension calculation to be reviewed.
If after this you are not satisfied that your payments are correct you can ask for a “mandatory reconsideration”, after which you will be told how to launch an appeal if you believe the calculations are still wrong.
If you are divorced and want to make sure that you are getting the right amount of state pension, the above calculator does not apply, but you can find out more by reading this MoneyHelper guide.
Information on the rules for widows can be found on the government website
There are also special rules for those aged 80 or over which can be found on gov.uk.
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