HMRC brown envelopes are being sent to 210,000 people owed over £5000 after pension error

HMRC brown envelope
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


If a brown envelope comes through your letter box in the coming weeks, it could tell you that you are owed over 35,000 by HMRC. Thousands of individuals, predominantly women, are being notified by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding money they are owed due to a significant state pension error.

The issue primarily impacts women in their 60s and 70s who claimed Child Benefit between 1978 and 2000. Their National Insurance credits - which contribute towards your state pension entitlement if you're not working - were not correctly transferred.

Until 2010, these National Insurance credits were known as Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP). HRP reduced the number of qualifying years needed to claim the state pension for parents and carers. It was mostly claimed by stay-at-home mums or anyone who took a break from paid work to care for a child or a person with a long-term disability or illness.

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However, if someone claimed Child Benefit and didn't include their National Insurance number on the form, their HRP credits may not have been correctly transferred to their National Insurance record. Consequently, this could have affected the amount of state pension they're receiving, reports the Mirror.

It's estimated that 210,000 people may have been impacted. Of this figure, 60,000 are now deceased - and their families can make a claim for any money owed.

Those of pensionable age are being prioritised for contact, with ministers previously stating that the majority of those affected by the mistake will be reached by April next year. The average pay-out is around £5,000, but in some instances, it can amount to tens of thousands of pounds. One woman shared with MoneySavingExpert.com's founder, Martin Lewis, how she managed to reclaim a life-altering sum of £82,000.

A spokesperson for the DWP stated: "The action we are taking now will correct historical underpayments made by successive governments. We are fully committed to addressing these errors, not identified under previous governments, as quickly as possible. We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources towards completing this."

How do I check if I’ve been underpaid?

The main rules for qualifying for a year of HRP from 1978 are:

  • You had to be receiving child benefit in your own name (not that of a spouse or partner)

  • Your child was under 16 for the whole of the financial year in question

  • You were not paying the married woman’s "reduced stamp"

If you suspect you have missed out, you should first check your state pension and your National Insurance record. For those who reached pension age after April 5, 2010, any year of HRP/credits should be showing as a complete year on your NI record. If not, then you may have missed out.

For those who reached pension age on or before April 5, 2010, HRP was recorded in a different way and you need to phone the NI helpline to check if there is HRP on your record. The Government has also created an online checker tool on Gov.uk to see if you’re likely to be eligible to make a claim. To claim missing HRP up until March 2010, you need to fill in the form CF411.