DWP caves in to pressure to check ALL its recent state pension rejections to women turning 66 after Steve Webb uncovers fresh errors
- EXCLUSIVE: Department of Work and Pensions probe after our pressure
- Webb has raised the alarm over women receiving zero or low payouts since 2016
- He called for systematic checks after recently discovering a series of errors
- A DWP probe identified a ‘training issue’ with processing state pension claims
- Were YOU refused a state pension? Find out how to contact us below
All women refused a state pension in recent years will have their cases reviewed after our columnist Steve Webb and This is Money pressured the Government to investigate a string of potential blunders.
Webb, a former Pensions Minister, raised the alarm over women receiving zero or low payouts since 2016 and called for systematic checks after recently discovering a number of errors.
These included a retired pub worker told she would receive nothing whatsoever when she claimed in April, but who was owed around £4,400 a year.
Errors involve those who paid ‘married women’s stamp’ for at least one year during the 35 years before they reached state pension age
Since publishing that story, Webb and This is Money have bombarded the DWP with cases of further possible errors involving women who have qualified for their pension since 2016.
And today Webb was informed checks will now be implemented after an investigation identified a ‘training issue’ with the processing of state pension claims.
He says: ‘We have drawn a whole series of cases to the attention of DWP which revealed that some women were being underpaid to the tune of thousands of pounds a year.
‘Once again, DWP’s procedures for checking the accuracy of state pension awards have been found wanting. Once more, action has only been taken in response to media pressure and persistent campaigning.
‘This is no way to run a Government department.’
Were you refused a state pension?
A little-known rule means women who paid the ‘married women’s stamp’ towards the state pension can still benefit from it now.
Women retiring from April 2016 onwards get state pension payments based on their own National Insurance record not their husband’s.
But there is a special concession for those who paid the stamp for at least one year during the 35 years before they reached state pension age.
You can claim £85.00 a week if still married or £141.85 if you are widowed or divorced, based on this year’s rates.
If this applies to you, and you were refused a state pension or are receiving less than that, email us at [email protected] and put DWP CLAIMS in the subject line. Please tell us your date of birth and current state pension, if any.
Women who reached state pension age before April 2016 who are on a zero pension or think they are underpaid can find out what to do here.
The errors involve those who paid ‘married women’s stamp’ for at least one year during the 35 years before they reached state pension age.
They should receive around £4,400 a year if they are married, or around £7,400 a year if they are divorced or widowed.
Webb and This is Money previously discovered tens of thousands of elderly women were underpaid £1billion in a scandal affecting those who reached state pension before 2016.
However, this is a separate error involving women who have qualified for their pension since 2016.
Webb, who is now a partner at pension consultancy LCP and writes a weekly column for This is Money, first discovered the DWP was making mistakes in such cases in a response to a Freedom of Information request in 2019.
He assumed it had sorted out the problem until he uncovered four fresh mistakes earlier this year.
The DWP has now told him that checks would be made on all ‘disallowances’ of state pension claims.
He has asked whether the exercise will also cover people who have incorrectly been awarded an amount less than the minimum sums above, but has not yet received a response.
‘Whilst it is welcome that DWP have now admitted a systematic problem and have put in place some case reviews, it is shocking that they seem to have known about this potential error back in 2019 and failed to fix it properly, says Webb.
‘Even now, there are questions about whether the current fix is sufficiently wide-ranging to pick up all of those who may have lost out.’
In one blunder which Webb flagged to the DWP, Angela Dunn (not her real name), was told she would receive around £168 a week, but she had previously received a higher forecast.
Is my state pension too low because the DWP missed the final year off my NI record?
Steve Webb has just highlighted a separate state pension error.
He won a 79-year-old pensioner £1,600 – could this blunder affect YOU? Follow the link and find out how to contact us.
Ms Dunn, who is divorced and turned 66 this month, raised this discrepancy during repeated calls to the DWP recently, but despite staff saying her case would be investigated she got no response.
She intended to make a formal complaint, but at this point she also contacted Webb who agreed to help.
He has now established she will receive £188 a week, so she could have missed out on around £1,000 per year or £20,000 over a 20-year retirement.
Ms Dunn, a retired product manager from Norfolk, says: ‘If I hadn’t got a forecast previously I would have thought that was right and accepted it, without realising it was wrong.
‘They sent me a letter with the wrong amount on it. I rang them up and I explained what I thought was wrong. It was like I was speaking a foreign language.’
The DWP has apologised to Ms Dunn for the error in her initial award calculation.
The department was contacted today for comment on its decision to launch a full investigation into ‘zero’ state pension cases.
A DWP spokesperson said: ‘This year we will spend over £110billion on the state pension and support over 12.5million pensioners.
‘Our priority is ensuring everyone receives the financial support to which they are entitled and, where errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them.’