Martin Lewis urges women on Basic State Pension to check for back payments of up to £12,500

Martin Lewis is urging hundreds of thousands of older women to check if they have been underpaid their State Pension and due thousands of pounds in arrears from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In a special pensions edition of the weekly ( Newsletter, the consumer champion breaks down the specific groups of women who may be owed “big bucks” as a result of historical errors.

Martin explained that married or divorced women, aged 70 and over on the Basic State Pension, or those who took time off to look after their children, may be affected and due back payments. He also said that while most errors are being corrected automatically, some people may need to claim.

The latest figures from the DWP show that 97,016 people over State Pension age - mostly women - have already received payments averaging £2,192, £5,713 and £12,486, depending on their pension category and their own individual circumstances.

Writing in the newsletter, Martin said: “100,000s of married or now divorced / widowed women on the 'old' State Pension (those who hit state pension age before 6 April 2016) are due big bucks due to pension system errors, mainly as they didn't get the cut of their husbands' pensions due to them.”

The financial guru added that more than 200,000 women could be missing out on higher State Pension payments.

As already stated, most errors will be corrected automatically and any money owed paid directly by DWP. However, he advised that the following groups of people may need to make a claim:

  • You got divorced after reaching State Pension age

  • Your husband turned 65 before March 17, 2008

  • You are a married woman getting no State Pension, or getting a small amount of additional State Pension / SERPS

A full guide for the above can be found on the website here.

Martin also urged those who took time off to look after children to check if they could be owed money due to errors related to Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP).

HRP was a scheme that ran between April 6, 1978 and April 5, 2010 and reduced the number of qualifying years of NI contributions a person with caring responsibilities needed to receive the full Basic State Pension.

HMRC is working with the DWP to find people affected by the historic administration error over the next 18 months so that those eligible receive any arrears payments as quickly as possible.

Some 210,000 older people are due a share of underpayments totalling £1.3 billion, equivalent to around £5,000 each.

DWP has also previously said that those closest to the State Pension age in their 60’s and 70s are being issued letters first, however, anyone who thinks they may have been affected can check their eligibility online using the self-identification tool on GOV.UK here.

Martin said: “The system was beset with errors, leaving many having gaps in their NI records that should be there. The Govt is now writing to those affected, so if you get a letter, DON'T ignore it, it can be worth £10,000s.”

State Pension underpayments in a nutshell

In 2020, the DWP became aware of a number of individuals who had not had their State Pension increased, 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 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: £5,713

  • Total amount repaid: £243.8 million

Widowed (Cat B)

  • Cases reviewed: 298.099

  • Underpayments identified: 21,175

  • Average arrears: £12,486

  • Total amount repaid: £262.3 million

Over 80 (Cat D)

  • Cases reviewed: 89,634

  • Underpayments identified: 32,474

  • Average arrears: £2,192

  • Total amount repaid: £65.5 million

How to check if you are affected or make a claim

There are now nearly 12.7 million people across Great Britain claiming State Pension, including more than one million in Scotland. Of that overall total, 9.3 million are in receipt of the Basic State Pension and 3.4 million on the New State Pension.

The Basic State Pension is now 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 but full contact details can be found on the website here.

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