Married women could be owed millions in underpaid state pensions

Older, married women are being warned that they could be owed a payment for underpaid state pensions. They are being advised to check for a missing ‘marriage uplift’ that could be worth thousands, following a series of mistakes.

Old state pensions promised to pay married women a basic state pension worth 60% of the full rate based on their husband’s contributions. That is if their husband’s contributions were worth more than theirs.

Prior to March 2008, women manually claimed for the uplift. The claim form was often sent to their husbands, meaning many women missed out.

After March 2008, a further failure occurred, in that when the pensions process changed the ‘marriage uplift’ also changed and this happened automatically. This uplift didn’t always kick in, leaving female pensioners out of pocket in many cases.

What does this mean as a result of this state pension processing error?

As a result of this error, it is estimated that tens of thousands of women have had their pensions underpaid for the last 12 years.

The down-side of this is that women are not entitled to 12 years of backdated payments. In accordance with current pension laws, women are only being refunded missed payments for the last 12 months.

In response, many women are planning to make a complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman and claiming “maladministration”. They will be arguing that the DWP – Department for Work and Pensions failed to inform them about the requirement to make a second state pension claim when their husband turned 65.

Some women are now receiving refunds from the DWP worth an average of £10,000. Research from Steve Webb, a partner at pensions and investment consultancy LCP, suggests that a very small number of women could be in line for refunds of more than £100,000.

Steve Webb has identified the following groups of women who may be entitled to repayments:

  1. Widows whose pension didn’t increase when their husbands died
  2. Widows whose pension is now correct, but who think they may have been underpaid while their late husband was alive
  3. Divorced women
  4. Women over 80
  5. The heirs of married women who have died

Who you should contact to discuss state pensions

If you think you are a married woman who could be owed thousands, do not sit back and wait for the DWP to contact you – there are concerns that many eligible women will slip through the department’s net. You should contact the Pensions Service on 0800 731 7898 if you think you may have been underpaid.

For help and advice regarding retirement, pensions, investments and financial planning, please contact our friendly team using our contact form or call 01457 870008.


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