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Widows and women aged 80+ may have pension records checked for underpayments

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19/11/2020
Widows and women over the age of 80 could have their state pension records checked by the government to see if they’re receiving the correct entitlement or whether they’ve being underpaid.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is already checking state pension records of married women after it was revealed a number were not benefiting from a system allowing them to claim based on the National Insurance record of their husband, ex-husband or deceased husband.

But it has now separately confirmed it is “exploring” how it can most effectively check state pension records to identify widows and those aged over 80 who may not be getting the correct entitlement.

It added that where it identifies an underpayment, the amount will be backdated.

The move comes after Steve Webb, partner at consultancy Lane Clark and Peacock (LCP), and former pensions minister, submitted a petition to the government calling for a review of state pension entitlements for all women who may have been underpaid.

His petition garnered 12,000 signatures and therefore triggered a response from the government. His petition stated: “Under the old state pension, women could claim a pension based on the contributions of a husband, ex-husband or late husband.

“DWP has acknowledged that in some cases this did not work and women are being underpaid, and is checking to find these women and compensate them. But others may be missing out, including widows, certain older married women and the over 80s.

“DWP must check their entitlements and provide compensation for any underpayment, rather than wait for them to claim, one-by-one. DWP’s search of its records must be comprehensive.”

Earlier this month, it was estimated that DWP could face a bill of more than £100m for underpaid state pensions for women.

Wider state pension records check

As part of its response to Webb’s petition, the DWP stated: “In 2008, the law was changed so married women who were getting a state pension in their own right didn’t have to make a further claim to have their state pension increased using their husband’s National Insurance contributions if he reached state pension age from 17 March 2008.

“A number of married women have contacted DWP to check if their state pension amount is correct because they are not sure their state pension amount has been increased as it should have been when their husband reached his state pension age. Where it has been identified that someone is being underpaid state pension, DWP have paid any backdated state pension due in accordance with the law.

“DWP has started a wider state pension records check to identify married women who may be being underpaid state pension. The activity to identify those that are being underpaid their state pension entitlement in accordance with the law is a significant task.

“As a result of contact we have received from a small number of widows who have not seen their state pension amount increased following their husband’s death, DWP is also exploring how it can most effectively check state pension records to identify other widows and those aged over 80 who may not be getting their correct state pension entitlement.”

It added that for anyone who believes they are being underpaid state pension, they should contact the DWP on 0800 731 0469.

Webb said: “It is good news that the DWP have confirmed that not only are they checking their records for under-paid married women, but they are also looking into the position of widows and the over 80s who may also be missing out.

“Although this is a big job, many of these women have been underpaid for many years and are owed thousands of pounds. DWP needs to accelerate this process and not continue to rely on people phoning up one-by-one.”

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