A WIDOWED OAP has received a payout of more than £117,000 after being underpaid her state pension for 20 years.
Rosemary Chattell, 96, is just one of tens of thousands of elderly women who have lost out on often valuable income for many years because of staggering failings in the old pension system, says pension guru Sir Steve Webb.
Last week, Sir Steve also told us how married women were losing out due to government blunders — and we were flooded with emails from concerned families. But they are far from the only ones who have lost out, he says.
Divorced and widowed women have also been denied money, in some cases going back decades, as have many OAPs aged over 80.
Today, with the help of Sir Steve, we look at who is affected and how to claim . . .
THOSE AGED 80+
UNDER the old state pension system, OAPs aged 80 or over who reached state-pension age before April 2016 could get 60 per cent of the basic pension rate, regardless of their spouse’s age and national insurance record.
You can claim it if you’re 80 or over, you don’t get a basic state pension or you get less than £80.45 and have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for ten of the past 20 years.
After calculations from a Freedom of Information request, Steve reckons tens of thousands of women have missed out.
WITH the old pension system, a widow who had only been on 60 per cent of her husband’s full basic pension could get 100 per cent of it once he died.
That’s because she could, in effect, swap his national insurance record for hers.
But Steve has calculated that tens of thousands of widows were not only falling short of the 100 per cent rate, they were getting less than 60 per cent.
He says it was difficult to understand why, adding: “For widows, the uplift to a state pension based on the record of a late husband should be automatic in most cases.
Relatively few husbands would have such a poor national insurance record to leave their widow with less than 60 per cent of a basic pension.”
A WOMAN who is divorced when she reaches pension age can substitute her ex-husband’s national insurance record for her own up to the point of their divorce.
So those who split late in life could get a full basic state pension, rather than the 60 per cent given to those still married.
But Steve thinks around 35,000 divorced women are receiving less than 60 per cent of a full basic state pension.
He says: “While some of these women may have only been married for a short time and therefore not benefited much from the ability to substitute an ex-husband’s contributions, it is surprising to see so many living on such small pensions. The DWP should investigate if the system for calculating the pensions of divorced women is working as it should.”
UP to 130,000 retired, stay-at- home mums may have missed out on a pension hike when their husbands retired, Steve reckons.
Their payments should have risen to 60 per cent of their husband’s basic state pension, the amount women with low national insurance contributions got under the old pension system.
That means, for the current tax year, they would get £80.45 a week, 60 per cent of their husband’s £134.25 a week. Instead, they are getting more like £67 a week.
The injustice only affects wives who retired before 2016, since after that the system changed so women’s pensions were no longer linked to their husbands.
How much you’ll get in compensation depends on when your husband retired. If it was between April 2008 and 2016, you’ll get all your losses back as the Government should have increased your pension automatically.
Those whose husbands retired before 2008 had to apply for the extra cash, although in many cases they lost out because they didn’t know about it. Women in this position can only get a year of backdated payments.
'There must be thousands of people like us'
WIDOW Rosemary Chattell’s family were astonished to discover how much money she was owed by the Government.
Rosemary, now 96, see main run, should have had an automatic increase after her husband Roy, a Cheshire timber business owner, died in 1999, but she never got the money due to an administrative error.
The blunder was discovered by her son John, 66, who found out his widowed mother-in-law had for years been receiving £129 a week, while his mum had been getting only £77.
He called the Department of Work and Pensions three times – but says he was fobbed off on every occasion.
John, a retired sales manager, decided to make one last call and got through to “a helpful person” who investigated for him.
Eventually, he received a phone call back from a staff member, who first asked him if he was sitting down – before telling him his mum was due £107,852.58.
He was delighted but said: “It’s an injustice. There must be thousands of people like us. Without making a call you never find out.”
Rosemary, who now has severe dementia and lives in a care home, was later awarded a further £9,447.20 in interest – bringing the total payout to more than £117,000.