How 74,000 married women could be in line for £23,000 pension payout – are you due a windfall?04/02/2021
MORE than 74,000 married women are due to receive up to £23,000 after years of being underpaid their state pension.
The full scale of the pensions scandal was highlighted by This is Money and Sir Steve Webb last month – but average payouts have been now been published.
The investigation showed how 200,000 women in total didn’t get the hike in payments they were due.
The error affected elderly, widowed and divorced women who didn’t see their state pension rise based on their husband’s contributions.
Their payments should have gone up to 60% of their husband’s basic state pension, but thousands of women didn’t get the boost.
Since 2008, the increases are supposed to be automatic, but before that women had to apply to get the full sum they were due.
How did the pensions error happen?
THE error happened when an old pension scheme policy, which meant women’s pensions were linked to their husband’s, was changed in 2016.
Currently, we have a system where there's an old state pension, which is referred to as the basic state pension, and the new state pension.
The old state pension was for those who reached retirement age before April 6, 2016, while the new state pension is for those who reach retirement age after this date.
There is some crossover for people who've accrued National Insurance contributions under both systems.
It was decided that married women could pay a reduced rate of NI contributions, known as the “married woman’s stamp”.
This meant they were not paying towards their own state pension, but when their husband retired they could get an uplift to 60% of his pension so long as he had a full record of contributions.
Married women who had not paid the stamp but had missed out on making contributions due to staying at home with the kids also qualified for the boost to 60%.
The policy was deemed unfair and was changed in 2016 so women’s pensions were no longer linked to their husbands.
New figures released by the Office for Budget Responsibility have now revealed the average payouts for the first time.
First reported by The Telegraph, the data shows widowed retirees are owed an average £17,000, and this rises to £23,000 for married women.
Meanwhile, 72,000 over-80s are to receive an average payment of more than £10,000 over the next five years.
In total, it’s estimated the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will dish out £2.9billion in refunds.
The government will hand over £570million every year until 2026 to reimburse those affected.
This tax year, the full basic state pension is £134.25 a week so the women should've been getting £80.45 (60%) instead of the more typical figure of £67 a week for those with a small state pension.
The Guardian has reported how some women were getting as little as 87p per week.
In some cases, This is Money discovered that underpayments had been huge with one widow owed £115,000.
The Sun has contacted the DWP for comment.
How to work out if you’re affected:
To work out if you’ve been underpaid, you can use this online tool created by Sir Steve, who is the former pensions minister, at lcp.uk.com.
Those who get a state pension of less than £80.45 per week are being encouraged to check if they're entitled to money.
Women on small pensions, who are married, widowed or in a civil partnership and retired before April 2016 could be affected.
You could be due money if you fall into one of these categories:
- You're a married women who reached state pension age before April 2016 and whose husbands turned 65 on or after March 17, 2008.
- You're a widow whose pension wasn't increased when their husband was still alive.
- You're someone who may have been underpaid since their husband died.
The above people should receive their windfall automatically from the DWP.
But the following groups of women will have to ask the government for their money.
- You're a married woman who reached state pension age before April 2016 and whose husbands turned 65 before March 17, 2008.
- You're a divorced woman who hasn't seen their state pension increase based on their ex-husband's national insurance record.
How do I get paid?
The DWP started working to fix the problem on January, 11 2021.
A department spokesperson previously told The Sun that a specialist team of around 150 people has been set up to deal with the corrections.
If you are owed money, you will have to sit tight and wait for the DWP to send you a letter confirming your payment.
The spokesperson said the team is manually working through each case as quickly as they can.
Although they said they could not give a specific time frame of when people should receive their money, it could take years to get through the cases.
If you fall into the group of people who aren't automatically entitled to money back, you'll need to contact the Pension Service.
They can be reached on 0800 731 0469, or see other contact details on the Pension Service website.
It comes after separate research showed women will need to work "40 years more" than a man to get same pension pot.
Martin Lewis has explained seven things you need to know about your pension including a clever trick to work out how much to save.
All workers will be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme by mid-2020s.
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