State pension age: Women may be set for compensation as age review continues

WASPI Women: Jacob Rees-Mogg says changes were ‘fair’

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State Pension age was previously set at 60 for women and 65 for men, however, this was considered to be unfair and the process of age equalisation commenced. Under the Pensions Acts of 1995 and 2011, many women saw their state pension rise to the higher age of 65. By 2018, both men and women’s state pension age was set at 65, with further increases planned. 

Some disagree with the change, while others have come to accept it, but debate the way in which the alteration was communicated.

Certain women have suggested they were not provided with ample enough time to prepare for these changes to take place.

Others claimed they did not receive any correspondence from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to let them know such a change was happening.

These women, often born in the 1950s, have described being financially impacted as a result, and some have said they struggle to make ends meet. 

Others described an impact on their health – physical and mental – as well as their emotional well-being. 

As many women have taken issue with the communication of this matter, it has been referred for further analysis.

Now, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are conducting a review which, it is hoped, will clarify the situation.

The Ombudsman is currently examining the complaints brought which relate to communication of changes to the women’s state pension age. 

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But the Ombudsman cannot share its findings until the investigation is complete.

This is because, by law, it investigates the matter in private, delving deeper into the concerns first brought to it.

Most importantly, the Ombudsman is to look at six sample cases which it states reflects the range of issues in the complaints sent to it.

The Ombudsman will not be able to recommend reimbursing “lost pensions”, neither will it be able to state whether anyone should receive their pension. 

There are three main stages which comprise an investigation carried out by the Ombudsman.

The first relates to the matter of maladministration, that is to say, if there were errors or poor service in the DWP’s communication of changes.

The Ombudsman is to evaluate what the DWP should have done to communicate changes, and whether these actions were carried out.

If maladministration is found, which of course is not a guarantee, then the second stage – injustice – is deliberated.

The second stage looks at whether maladministration led to an injustice for the complainant.

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The Ombudsman explains: “At the second stage, we would also consider the complaints about DWP not adequately communicating the required number of years of national insurance contributions to receive a full state pension, as well as DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling. 

“If we find there was an injustice that has not already been remedied then we will proceed to the third stage and make recommendations to put things right.”

While the Backto60 group have campaigned for the state pension age to revert to 60, the Ombudsman cannot make this recommendation.

This is also the case for the idea of a reinstatement of the state pension or compensation for the amount a person would have received. 

However, as the Ombudsman highlights, is recommendations may include compensation being paid – on a scale. 

It is not yet clear when a decision on maladministration will be made, and the Ombudsman has said it will throughly consider the evidence to make a “robust and impartial decision”. 

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