OVER one million Brits are missing out on more than £400 each due to errors over state pension.
In total, pensioners were underpaid a huge £530million last year – with around 1.3million not getting the full amount, according to new analysis.
Research by the Labour Party has revealed that a whopping 1.8million were underpaid during to 2021 to 2022 financial year.
This was due to processing errors by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HMRC and local authorities.
State pensions accounted for 48% of underpayments.
For each individual pensioner who was underpaid the average amount was over £400.
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Of course the exact amount you could be underpaid could be more.
LCP partner and former pensions minister Steve Webb told The Sun: “At a time of cost of living crisis, it is shocking that so many pensioners are not being paid the right rate of pension.
"DWP has known about these problems for years and now needs to get a move on to put things right."
There are multiple reasons that various groups could be underpaid.
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Helen Morrissey,head of retirement analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that while state pension underpayments may only make up a small percentage of overall payments, the fact remains "many people have suffered real financial difficulties as a result".
She explained that some cases stretch back decades and can amount to thousands of pounds in repayments.
Helen said: "DWP is currently in the midst of an exercise to identify and refund those affected but the scale of the problem means this could take some time.
"You are far less likely to suffer an underpayment if you retire under the new state pension system (post 2016) but it’s still really important to get a state pension forecast online to make sure there are no errors ahead of getting your state pension and if you or a loved one retired under the old system then be extra vigilant and query any discrepancies you find.”
Who is at risk of being underpaid state pension?
Fresh figures released in March revealed that over 46,000 retirees have had payments returned after an error resulted in £1.46bn being underpaid.
The scale of the error left over 237,000 pensioners underpaid, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Women retiring under the old state pension system are those mainly affected.
We spoke to both experts to find the key groups of people most at risk of underpayments.
We also reveal what you can do about underpayments.
Women should have been entitled to an uplift when their spouse or civil partner reached 65 before March 17, 2008, Helen explained.
Around 237,000 retired stay-at-home mums may have missed out on a pension hike when their husbands retired.
Their payments should have risen to 60% of their husband’s basic state pension, the amount women with low National Insurance contributions got under the old pension system.
In the previous tax year when the issue was first uncovered, they would get £80.45 a week, 60% of their husband’s £134.25 a week.
Instead, they are getting more like £67 a week.
The injustice only affects wives who retired before 2016. After this date, women's pensions were no longer linked to their husbands.
"Many women didn’t realise they were entitled to receive 60% of their spouse/civil partner’s pension under this system," Helen said.
The 60% uplift also applies to women who became divorced from their partners/ spouse.
Helen warned that those who got divorced post retirement may be particularly at risk.
However, you can’t claim if you have since remarried.
People over 80
If you are aged over 80 and you aren't getting at least £85 a week, you are being underpaid as well.
More than 14,500 over 80s got an average of £2,710 each in back payments after being underpaid, according to the DWP.
Helen said people who were widowed and didn’t get an uplift in their state pension are also at risk of underpayment.
She said: "They could have been entitled to an uplift giving them a full basic state pension depending on their spouse/civil partner’s National Insurance record."
Spouses or civil partners
If you have a spouse/civil partner who turned 65 before March 17 2008, who isn’t receiving a basic state pension but is receiving SERPS, you could be missing out on up to 60% of the full basic state pension.
Families and heirs of pensioners
It's bad news for the family members of underpaid pensioners too.
According to Helen the families/heirs of those people who were underpaid the state pension while alive will also likely be underpaid too.
Steve explained another error relates to National Insurance credits for time spent at home with children.
He said: "In brief, time at home with children since 1978 has generated credits towards your state pension; originally it was for children under 16 and since 2010 it has been for children under 12.
"But in some cases these credits are missing from people’s NI records; as a result they can be underpaid by hundreds or thousands of pounds a year and may have been underpaid for many years."
LCP has developed a page on its website which is called "Mothers Missing Millions" which explains the rules: www.lcp.uk.com/mothersmissingmillions
What can I do about being underpaid?
Pensioners can't go directly to the DWP and query whether they have been affected but there are some online tools and advice sites out there to help give you some clues.
Another online tool launched by Steve and LCP can help married women check if they might be affected by underpayments.
If you use the LCP calculator and think you're eligible for a top-up in either scenario, then the DWP should pick up the error in their own records too.
The DWP started working to fix the major problem of women being underpaid on January 11, 2021, and said that it expects to make all repayments by the end of 2023.
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If you are owed money, you'll likely have to sit tight and wait for the DWP to send you a letter confirming your payment.
Those considered at "high risk" like those over 80 and widows are being prioritised.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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