Full list of older women due Basic State Pension back payments before end of this year

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently published an update on progress of the State Pension Underpayments Legal Entitlements and Administrative Practice (LEAP) exercise. The latest figures show that 97,016 people over State Pension age - mostly women - have received back payments averaging £2,192, £5,713 and £12,486, depending on their pension category.

The data shows that 705,688 State Pension cases have been checked for possible errors between January 11, 2021 and February 29, 2024, with a total of £571.6 million owed in underpayments.

This LEAP exercise update provides crucial information for four groups of older people - married women (category BL), people in a civil partnership, widows and those over 80 (category D). The majority of these case reviews were completed by the end of 2023, with corrections and backdated payments due before the end of this year.

Commenting on the latest progress update, Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Progress is being made to rectify the large-scale issue of state pension underpayments, but it is very slow. Just over £571m has been returned so far but with estimates suggesting the scale of underpayments could be around £1.5bn there’s still a very long way to go.

"People have the expectation that the State Pension they receive is correct but a series of errors in an already overly complicated system means that for many thousands of people this expectation has been incorrect. Some who queried the issue with DWP over the years were told there was no problem, and many have suffered real financial hardship as a result. These people have been let down and need resolution as soon as possible.”

Reasons for State Pension underpayments

In 2020, the DWP became aware of a number of individuals who had not had their State Pension increase d, in accordance with the law, automatically when this should have occurred. This prompted the Department to take action to investigate the extent of the problem.

There are three broad categories of State Pension underpayments:

  • Cases covered by the State Pension Underpayments (LEAP) exercise

  • Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) cases where HRP has not been recorded accurately on National Insurance records

  • Cases where National Insurance credits need to be updated for people who were claiming Universal Credit.

State Pension Underpayments LEAP exercise

The State Pension LEAP is the DWP’s largest underpayment correction exercise in progress. It has been established to identify where State Pension underpayments may have occurred in respect of the following groups of people:

  • Category BL (Cat BL) - People who are married or in a civil partnership who reached State Pension age before April 6, 2016 and should be entitled to a Category BL uplift based on their partner’s National Insurance contributions.

  • Missed conversions - People who have been widowed and their State Pension was not increased to include any amounts they are entitled to inherit from their late husband, wife or civil partner.

  • Category D (Cat D) - People who reach age 80 and who are getting some Basic State Pension but less than the £85.00 (in 2022-23) and may therefore, subject to satisfying the appropriate residency conditions, be entitled to Cat D State Pension of £101.55 a week (2024/25 weekly rate).

State Pension underpayment progress - February 2024

The number of cases reviewed, arrears identified and payments made between January 2021 and February 2024 are listed below.

Married (Cat BL)

  • Cases reviewed: 317,955

  • Underpayments identified: 43,367

  • Average arrears payment: £5,713

  • Total amount repaid: £243.8 million

Widowed (Cat B)

  • Cases reviewed: 298.099

  • Underpayments identified: 21,175

  • Average arrears payment: £12,486

  • Total amount repaid: £262.3 million

Over 80 (Cat D)

  • Cases reviewed: 89,634

  • Underpayments identified: 32,474

  • Average arrears payment: £2,192

  • Total amount repaid: £65.5 million

An elderly woman is sitting on a sofa with a sad expression on her face
Married women, people in a civil partnership, widows and those over 80 could be due a lump sum. -Credit:Getty Images

State Pension underpayments - Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP)

The DWP estimates it underpaid between £300 million and £1.5 billion of State Pension because of errors with the recording of HRP.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) started writing to thousands of older people in September 2023 who may have been underpaid their State Pension due to missing information on their National Insurance (NI) record. The issue affects mostly women in their 60s and 70s who may have HRP missing from their NI record.

HRP was a scheme designed to help protect parents’ and carers’ entitlement to the State Pension and was replaced by NI credits from April 6, 2010. HMRC is using NI records to identify as many people as possible who might have been entitled to HRP between 1978 and 2010 and have no HRP on their NI record.

After May 2000, it became mandatory to include a NI number on claims so people claiming after this point will not have been affected. It is estimated tens of thousands of people are due an average of £5,000 in back payments.

Personal representatives are able to claim on behalf of deceased customers. For more information on eligibility and how to claim, visit the dedicated HRP page on GOV.UK here.

State Pension National Insurance Credits

Some people who received Universal Credit may not have had their National Insurance Credits correctly attributed to their National Insurance record held by HMRC which could affect their State Pension.

National Insurance records are maintained by HMRC based on information from employers through PAYE, Self-Assessment tax returns from the self-employed and information provided by DWP on benefit receipt where that creates a National Insurance credit.

Between 2017-18 and 2022-23 information about Universal Credit entitlements could not be processed by the National Insurance Recording System. National Insurance credits can affect the value of a State Pension award, so there was a risk some people who had claimed Universal Credit and subsequently reached State Pension age may have been underpaid.

During this period the DWP put in place a manual system with HMRC to update an individual’s National Insurance record where they felt they qualified for National Insurance credits in respect of time on Universal Credit.

With the issues now resolved between the DWP and HMRC systems, claims data relating to the affected years can now be successfully processed by HMRC. When these records are updated information will be sent to the DWP who will then correct any State Pension awards that are affected.

How to check if you are affected or make a claim

There are nearly 12.7 million people across Great Britain claiming State Pension, including more than one million in Scotland. Of that overall total, 9.7 million are in receipt of the Basic State Pension and 2.9 million on the New State Pension.

The Basic State Pension is worth up to £169.50 each week and the New State Pension up to £221.20.

A phone call to the Pension Service is the quickest way to find out if you have been underpaid your State Pension. The best number to call is 0800 731 0469, lines are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday - full contact details can be found on the GOV.UK website here.