/ Money

Have you been affected by an underpaid state pension?

Are you one of the married, divorced or widowed women affected by an underpaid state pension? Our Money Helpline has been taking an increasing number of calls on the issue.

On the Which? Money Helpline we’re being contacted by a growing number of members that are thinking that they may be affected by an underpaid state pension.

This was originally highlighted by Pension Consultants Lane Clarke & Peacock in May, which has been told that the average payout is in the region of £9,000.

This affects women who were married and reached state pension age (SPA) before April 2016, who can claim the basic state pension.

Which? News: six groups of women underpaid state pensions

Under the old state pension rules, women could claim a basic state pension at 60% of the full rate based on the contributions of their husband’s – but only where this would exceed what they would have got based on their own contributions.

Before 17 March 2008, a married woman would need to make a claim to have her pension increased – but since that date the uplift should have happened automatically.

Changing state pension systems

Under this old system, each member of a couple could build up a pension in their own right. In theory, each member of a married couple could earn a full state pension.

But many women had gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record or had paid the specially reduced ‘married woman’s stamp’, and so reached pension age with very limited pension entitlement of their own. The main groups affected by this issue are:

🔷 Married women whose husband turned 65 before March 17, 2008 and who have never claimed an uplift to the 60% rate

🔷 Widows whose pension was not increased when their husband passed away

🔷 Widows whose pension is now correct, but who think they may have been underpaid while their late husband was still alive, particularly if he reached the age of 65 after March 17, 2008

🔷 Women in their eighties who are receiving a basic pension of less than £80.45

🔷 Widowers and heirs of married women, where the woman has passed away but was underpaid state pension during her lifetime

🔷 Divorced women, particularly those who divorced after retirement, to check that they are benefiting from the contributions of their ex-husband

Are you eligible to claim?

LCP has a calculator that you can use provided you have the correct information about your circumstances such as dates of birth and what pension is currently being paid.

You’ll need to enter some details about you and your husband (or husband at the time), including when you were born, whether your husband is over SPA, how much basic state pension you currently receive and how much your husband (or ex-husband) receives.

You’ll then be given an indication of whether you’re receiving less than you’re entitled to. LCP says all data is given anonymously and it doesn’t store any of the personal data you input.

According to LCP since its investigation published in May, the firm has had more than 160,000 people visit its website calculator.

However, if you have any concerns or questions about your pension you should contact the government’s Pension Service or talk to a regulated financial adviser. Do you think you may have been affected by an underpaid state pension?

Helping our members

Did you know about Which? Money Helpline? It’s staffed by financial experts with more than 100 years’ experience in the financial services industry between them.

Members can ask us questions about a range of personal finance subjects, and there are no limits to the number of calls you and your family can make, or the length of time you can spend talking to us.

What the Which? Money Helpline can help you with
  • Banking
  • Borrowing – credit cards and loans
  • Car, home and travel insurance
  • Equity release
  • Investments
  • Long-term care
  • Mortgages
  • Pensions
  • Protection insurance
  • Savings and Isas
  • Tax
  • Wills/probate/trusts
(We do not offer regulated financial advice)

Which? members can call the helpline on 029 2267 0001.

Comments
Alan Greaves says:
4 September 2020

Just a thought – but why does the picture of the pig show euros?

Good spot – stock photos can be troublesome sometimes. I’ve replaced it (just ignore that the pound coins are the old style circular ones).

D Cutler says:
4 September 2020

I raised with Which this issue of certain groups of women losing out pension wise, about 3 or4 years ago,but they were not interested. I also raised it with BBC, Women’s hour, Guardian, Labour party, all not interested. Raised it with Tory gov’t who responded and they basically said that as it was a small portion of women who were getting older and dying, they didn’t plan to do anything about it

I find as a Which member the response I got from Which was typical and they were not willing to investigate, but now some pension consultants have raised it Which have jumped on the band wagon

I agree with you .

I have tried to raise the problem of non payment of cost of living increases on a persons Guaranteed Minimum Pension ( GMP) after state pension age which is paid to people who reach state pension age prior to 6 April 2016 under the old state pension with Which , Age UK and Pensions and life Time Savings Association

Under the New State Pension (NSP) which started on 6 April 2016 people who reached or reach state pension age on and after 6 April 2016 no longer receive the increases via the state pension.

The main problem is that the DWP have not told anyone they will no longer receive GMP indexation .
Because of DWP not mentioning the loss of GMP indexation which was not picked up by pension professionals when they gave written and oral evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee when they were doing the pre legislation scrutiny for the NSP it got through by stealth as the DWP did not mention it in the white paper or any information packs issued to parliament to help with debates.

Because of the non mention of loss of GMP indexation by the DWP I helped two friends take their cases to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

They both won their case and the Ombudsman said the DWP were Guilty of Maladministration on 30 September 2019.

In the report issued to my two friends it mentioned that the DWP would have to tell people about the loss and how they could put in a claim against the DWP and were given three moths to come back and tell the Ombudsman how they were going to let the public know about loss of GMP indexation which was extended to five which they kept to as the DWP Permanent Secretary came back on 27 Feb 2020.

Since then nothing has happened. I think because the Permanent Secretary mentioned in his letter that he was only going to let people find out by chance if the saw it on GOV.uk web site and not write to people individually like the did with inherited SERPS about eight years ago.

I don’t think the Ombudsman is happy as they wanted people to contacted directly and not left to find out by chance.

This effects about eleven million people and loss of GMP indexation can be up to about £20,000 or even more depending on earnings and sex . The loss for females is more than men if they have same earnings and work record.

My friends won their cases with out any help from pension professionals or organisations like AGE UK and Which as neither was interested when I approached them

As you say Which are only interested if they are told about a problem with state pensions if it is mentioned by pension professionals.

I think my two friends cases are the first time ordinary members have got maladministration against the DWP without the help of pension professionals or solicitors and barristers.

Kednneth
Do you have, or can you point me to, a template letter I can use to contact the DWP about the GMP indexation issue?
Thank you.

Christine Thompson says:
7 September 2020

I phoned up the Gov. pension people and they said it didn’t apply to me. I am now widowed. They did explain but it was complicated and I can’t remember all the details. Could Which talk to the Government department and produce a flow chart so that those entitled to it get their money and other people can check easily without wasting too much time.

Hello,
Is there a template letter I can use to contatc the DWP about the possible pension underpayment?
Thank you.