100,000 women just a phone call away from getting £2,500 more a year in their pension
Old fashioned rules on state pensions mean as many as 100,000 women could be significantly short changed on their payouts.
The good news is that fixing it could be as simple as picking up the phone.
And the rewards are worth it – with as much as £54.25 a week, or £2,821 a year, being added to pensions as a result.
The problem surrounds women who got divorced after the age of 60 and was brought to light by former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb.
“Every year thousands of women over state pension age get divorced, but many may not be aware that they can qualify for a state pension boost as a result,” Webb, now a partner at pensions consultants Lane Clark & Peacock, said.
“Worryingly even some financial advisers, lawyers and DWP call handlers seem to be unaware of the rules.”
To qualify for the uplift, you need to have reached state pension age before April 6 2016.
If you started claiming when you were married, but subsequently divorced, you could be in line for the full state pension of £134.25 rather than the “married woman’s rate” of just £80.45.
But only if you let DWP know, and that’s not normally top of people’s minds when they go through a split.
Karin Walker, founder of KGW Family Law said: “State pensions are all too often disregarded during divorce when they should be one of the first things looked at.”
Webb added: “Any woman who reached pension age before April 6 2016 and has since got divorced should contact the DWP if she is not on a full basic state pension to see if she is entitled to an increase based on her ex-husband’s contributions.”
Paul Cobley, director of Oak Barn Financial Planning, added that you also need to be persistent – as you could be knocked back at fist if the person you speak too hasn’t heard about the rule.
“I have to give my clients the confidence to persist, otherwise many would give up at the first rejection,” Cobley said.
“I hear stories like ‘They didn’t understand what I was talking about’ and ‘I was told that it’s not possible to do what you have suggested’.”
He said that claims can be turned around quickly, but can also take up to a year.
The key is to not give up.
A DWP spokesman said: “It is important that individuals report to us any change of circumstances that may affect their state pension entitlement.
“As a reminder, we include information on this in the leaflet that accompanies the uprating notifications we send to pensioners every year. We would encourage anyone who thinks they have failed to claim a state pension increase they are eligible for to contact the Department.”
He added: “DWP have dedicated, trained teams for handling all contacts from customers asking us to check their pension entitlement.”
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