The state pension is at the core of retirees’ income but hundreds of thousands of women have not been receiving the amount they are due every week, it has emerged.
Many have been underpaid tens of thousands of pounds over years and have been needlessly living on a reduced stipend due to a major error made by the Government.
The Department for Work and Pensions has promised to track down and reimburse 200,000 women, which will cost an estimated £2.9bn to put right.
But it could take as long as five years for some to receive their money back, with the average windfall expected to be £13,789.
There are also some groups of women that may be missed from the DWP’s repayment project. Those who suspect they may have been shortchanged should contact the Pensions Service to make sure they don’t miss out and speed up the process if they are due the money.
How do I know if I have been underpaid?
There are specific categories of women who reached state pension age before April 2016 and have been paid less than they were due over the years:
- Married and divorced women
Which married women are due money back?
In total, 74,000 married women are due to receive an average cash lump sum of £19,202 over the next five years.
This will apply to those born before April 6 1953, whose husbands are over the state pension age.
Many married women have missed out on a one-off increase in payments as the process of claiming an additional amount of state pension based on a husband’s records was only made automatic in 2008. Prior to this date women had to apply for the uplift. This means those who were unaware they could boost the state pension missed out.
Before new rules came into effect in April 2016, women could claim an enhanced pension when their husband retired. This was based on the assumption that men were the main breadwinners while women sacrificed their careers and earnings to raise children, therefore making fewer National Insurance contributions and racking up a smaller state pension entitlement.