State Pension  

Women urged to check pensions for underpayment

Women urged to check pensions for underpayment

LCP is calling on advisers to encourage widowed clients to check old paperwork on their state pensions to see if it is hiding past underpayments which could be worth thousands of pounds.

Steve Webb, partner at LCP, said the festive period could be the opportune moment for adult children or grandchildren to help elderly relatives check for underpayments and make a claim to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mr Webb said: “We know that thousands of today’s married women are getting the wrong rate of state pension. It is therefore inconceivable that there are not also thousands of widows who were underpaid in the past while their husband was still alive.  

“In a quiet moment over the festive period it would be worth checking for old pension paperwork to see if you are one of them. If so, you could be due thousands of pounds in underpaid pension, especially if you should have been awarded an automatic uplift when your husband turned 65."

He added: “I hope that widows, possibly aided by family members, will use a few moments of time together at Christmas to check this out and potentially enjoy a New Year windfall.”

The issue of state pension underpayments for married women was first raised by LCP back in May.

The women are being urged to check their state pension as under the old system married women could claim a basic state pension at 60 per cent of the full rate based on their husband's contributions, where this would be bigger than the pension they would get based on their own contributions.

Since March 17, 2008, this uplift should have been applied automatically but before this date, a married woman had to make a “second claim" to have her state pension increased when her husband turned 65 - and many women did not make that claim.

DWP has promised to search its records to find those who are currently missing out, and several thousand married women have already phoned DWP and made successful proactive claims, according to LCP.

LCP has now added a webpage dedicated to these women to allow them to check if they were underpaid in the past.  

The webpage provides details of the standard ‘married woman’s rate’ of pension each year back to 2010/11.  

If a widow has paperwork which shows that her rate of state pension was below this standard rate while she was still married, this may indicate a past underpayment.

amy.austin@ft.com

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