Married women underpaid their state pensions are to win back more than £100 million.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set up a unit to ha
Married women underpaid their state pensions are to win back more than £100 million.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set up a unit to handle claims from those who fear they have lost out.
It comes after former pensions minister Steve Webb found that potentially tens of thousands of wives, widows and divorcees were being underpaid.
Underpaid: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set up a unit to handle claims from women who fear they have lost out on their state pensions
The scandal relates to women who reached state pension age before April 2016 and are entitled to receive a rate based on their husband’s National Insurance record.
However, Sir Steve, now a partner at consultancy LCP, found many had no idea of this.
Now, the DWP’s top civil servant Peter Schofield has told the work and pensions select committee that 11,000 had been in touch and 7,200 claims had been processed so far.
He told MPs about one in four, or 1,900, have been found to be receiving too little. Sir Steve says at this rate, nearly 3,000 of the women that got in touch could be owed money.
He says the average lump sum back payment is about £10,000 – meaning the DWP will have to pay out up to £30 million.
Sir Steve believes the DWP’s total bill is likely to be well over £100 million. He says: ‘Many of these women have been underpaid for a decade or more, and the situation needs to be put right as a matter of urgency.’
A DWP spokesman says: ‘We are checking for further cases, and if any are found awards will also be reviewed and any arrears paid.’
The married woman’s rate is 60 per cent of the husband’s basic state pension. A full basic state pension is £134.25 a week, so a wife should get at least £80.45.
Women whose husbands turned 65 before March 2008 can only claim back payments for the past 12 months as the onus was on them to claim.
However, those who were eligible after that date were supposed to have the rate paid automatically, so may win back up to 12 years of underpayments.