Only a dozen complaints about the rise in the state pension age for women have been accepted in the last seven months, due to a backlog of cases.
In a written answer to Parliament this week, Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, revealed that at the end of October, there were 865 cases awaiting a decision on whether they should be accepted for investigation by the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) Office while a mere 12 cases had been accepted.
This backlog explains the drop in the number of cases the examiner's office has been able to accept since April 2018, he said. In March 2018, 132 complaints were accepted for investigation, while in February this number was 210.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has a two-tier process for formal complaints, which means once a complainant has exhausted the DWP process they are signposted to the ICE.
The ICE has been handling complaints about the troubled increase of the women's state pension age to 65, which had led to the creation of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign.
Since April, 961 new complaints have been received on this topic, 12 were accepted for investigation and 112 examinations were concluded.
There is no correlation between the three stages of the claims however, since it takes an average of 11 months for these claims to be to allocated to an investigation case manager and then concluded.
Overall, since January 2017, the ICE has received 4181 new complaints about the equalisation of women’s state pension age. In the same period 2670 cases were accepted for investigation, but only 181 were concluded.
FTAdviser reported in October that the ICE has had to hire 13 more members of staff due to the number of complaints received.
Earlier that month, it emerged one of these cases resulted in the DWP being ordered to pay a woman £35 after she complained she was not given enough information about the changes to her state pension age.
As part of a legal campaign, thousands of women from across the country have submitted, and continue to submit, complaints against the DWP regarding what they call an inadequate communication of changes to the state pension age.
The Waspi movement has been at the forefront of this campaign, claiming that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.
The group also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.