Women over State Pension age could be due payments worth up to £9,500

today8 September 2022 3

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Six groups of women over State Pension age could be due back payments, reports indicate. Up to £9,500 worth of underpayments could find its way back to eligible people.

According to the latest report by the National Audit Office (NAO), the public spending watchdog revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) accounts showed around 237,000 people over State Pension age have been underpaid a total of £1.46 billion. This was an increase of £429 million and some 105,000 older people on the DWP’s best estimate at the end of 2020-21.

In this report is said that the DWP is working HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to understand more about the scale, potential causes and options to correct these cases. These newly identified errors account for most of the increase in the State Pension underpayment rate from 0.3% to 0.5%.

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Underpayments go back as far as 1985, according to the financial audit report. Gareth Davies, head of NAO, found that the DWP has “identified several new groups of pensioners potentially affected by underpayment”, the most significant relating to Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP).

The government website explains that HRP was a scheme to help protect parents’ and carers’ State Pension credits while they stayed home to look after children. It was replaced by National Insurance credits in 2010. However, these were not recorded accurately on National Insurance records. It says that people may still be able to apply for HRP if, for full tax years (April to April) between 1978 and 2010, reports Nottinghamshire Live.

Former pensions minister, Sir Steve Webb, is now a pensions commentator and partner at LCP (Lane Clark & Peacock). He first highlighted the State Pensions underpayments while working with This Is Money, reported Daily Record. Writing on his social media account, he said: “DWP also admit that there are errors on missing ‘home responsibilities protection’ (credits for parents at home with kids). I first raised this with them in 2008 and they did a correct exercise, but a decade later there are still big errors.”

The DWP estimates the outstanding liability, after payments made up to March 31 2022, at £1.35 billion. It aims to complete its review of State Pension underpayments by the end of 2023, but recently told the Work and Pensions Committee that it expects to complete the exercise for people over the age of 80, the most vulnerable and those on category BL, by spring next year. Recruitment of those reviewing cases is expected to rise from 500 people to 1,500.

However, the NAO said that on current assessments, review and correction of all widowed pensioner cases may take until late 2024. It said: “A delay of this length would increase the total amount underpaid to pensioners by an estimated £14 million.”

Who may be due State Pension back payments?

There are six particular groups strongly encouraged to contact the pension service to see if they could be entitled to more State Pension.

  • 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 died
  • 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
  • Over-80s who are receiving a basic State Pension of less than £80.45
  • Widowers and heirs of married women , where the woman has now died 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

Peter Schofield, Permanent Secretary at DWP, also told the Work and Pensions Committee: “If anyone in any circumstance not covered by the LEAP exercise thinks that there is potentially an issue, they should get in touch with us.”

How to check or make a claim

A phone call to the pension service is the quickest way to find out if you are eligible for a State Pension refund. The best number to call is 0800 731 0469 but full contact details can be found on the website here.

A DWP spokesperson said: “The action we are taking now will correct historical underpayments made by successive governments. We are fully committed to addressing these errors, not identified under previous governments, as quickly as possible.

“We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources towards completing this, with further resources being allocated throughout 2022 and 2023 towards the underpayments exercise.”

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