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Thousands of women may have missed out on pension boost

written by Bella Palmer
pension-boost

Under the rules of the old state pension system, married women were entitled to a state pension worth 60% of their husband’s basic state pension when he reached age 65

Hundreds of thousands of women may have missed out on thousands of pounds of basic state pension.

Pensions can be complicated and it is not always easy to check your dues. The issue over some women being short changed on their basic state pension was first highlighted last year by Steve Webb, partner at financial consultancy Lane Clark & Peacock, and a former pensions minister.

One big group are married women who reached state pension age before 6th April 2016.

Under the rules of the ‘old’ state pension system, married women were entitled to a state pension worth 60% of their husband’s basic state pension when he reached age 65.

This was because when the state pension system was first set up, many married women didn’t qualify for a full basic state pension in their own right, typically due to a reduced national insurance record. So women were given a ‘top up’ to the 60% level when their husband turned 65.

Many married women didn’t actually get this top up.

While women should have got it automatically if their husband turned 65 on, or after 17 March 2008, a ‘glitch’ at the government end may mean they missed out.

In this case, women can claim back any unpaid state pension, which can be backdated to their husband’s 65th birthday.

If, however, their husband turned 65 before 17 March 2008, claiming the ‘uplift’ was more complicated as it meant after receiving any basic state pension in their own right, they would later have to claim for the ‘uplift’.

In this case, any underpayment women can claim can only be backdated for twelve months.

The group I’m more worried about are the ‘pre-2008’ people where the wives had turned 60, and their husbands reached 65 before 17 March 2008, but the wives didn’t know they had to make a second claim, says Steve Webb.

So the law got it wrong and now when they make a claim, it can only be backdated for a year, he said. In this case, you should complain to the DWP and to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Webb advises.

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