700,000 people may be due state pension back payments

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It is thought hundreds of thousands of women may have been underpaid the state pension historically, relating mostly to those on the older, basic state pension scheme. As part of this scheme, women were able to claim a state pension based on the National Insurance record of their husband, ex-husband, or deceased husband.

While the vast majority of payments were issued without error, there have been some problems identified in a subsequent investigation which mean many were underpaid.

Express.co.uk spoke to James Jones-Tinsley, self-invested pensions technical specialist at Barnett Waddingham, who shed more light on the issue.

He explained: “Underpayment of the state pension is something people should be watching out for.

“The DWP recently discovered some state pensions have been underpaid.”

State pension underpayments have been attributable to a number of factors, including computer errors and the complexity of the pension system.

However, the DWP is already taking steps to rectify the situation and set the record straight.

Mr Jones-Tinsley continued: “In January 2021, they began a state pension corrections exercise.

“This has revealed that up to October 31, 2022, the checking process identified 31,817 underpayments. This amounts to a total of some £209.33million.”

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It is thought more than 230,000 women have been underpaid, according to Money Saving Expert, and the sample of state pension cases the DWP will now look at for errors has risen to 700,000.

There is no set amount a person can expect to be reimbursed if it is found their state pension was underpaid, as this will vary on an individual basis.

Initially, the average payment was estimated at just under £9,000, but some may be able to claim in more than one category.

Some reports have suggested certain married women have received £40,000 or more, while other people may not receive backdating and could just have their amount adjusted from here on.

The expert also highlighted the key groups who could be affected by underpayments: married, widowed and over 80s – all of whom reached state pension age before April 2016.

According to Standard Life, it is possible men may be eligible for underpaid state pension top-ups.

However, men are more likely to have a full National Insurance record, and less likely to rely on a spouse or partner for a state pension top-up.

Not everyone will have their state pension updated automatically, so it is important to stay alert.

Whether or not a person has been underpaid will depend on individual circumstances.

As a result, some individuals will need to take action.

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The expert concluded: “It’s recommended for anyone who suspects they may have received less state pension to contact the Pension Service. The Pension Service can help identify any discrepancies with payments.”

A next of kin or executor of a will can also contact the DWP if they believe their deceased relative was underpaid the state pension.

These individuals will need to provide the following information about the person who has died: 

  • Their full name
  • Their date of birth
  • Their date of death
  • Their last known address, including their postcode
  • The full name of their husband, wife or civil partner, if they were married or in a civil partnership.

The Government states the application will be dealt with more quickly if a National Insurance number can also be provided. 

Peter Schofield, permanent secretary for the DWP, recently told a cross-party committee of MPs: “I am very sorry on behalf of the Department that we have made these underpayments. I am, though, pleased that I have now detected more of the underpayment that was out there.”

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