Could this be YOU? Did you miss out on a state pension lump sum if you were widowed in retirement?
Did you miss out on a state pension lump sum when you were widowed in retirement
In this special column, This is Money’s pension expert Steve Webb explains a vital issue that those who have been widowed in retirement need to know about.
Over the past couple of years, This is Money and I have uncovered state pension errors affecting more than 200,000 people who are collectively owed around £1.5billion.
But I am concerned that there may be another group who could be missed by the current checking process.
If, having read the rest of this article, you think ‘this could be me’ then I would be keen to hear from you.
The group I am keen to hear from tick all of the following boxes.
– You are a woman who comes under the old state pension system (so you were born before 6 April 1953)
– When you reached pension age you didn’t qualify for any basic state pension (though you may have received a few pounds or pence of graduated retirement benefit)
– Your husband reached 65 and claimed his pension *after* you reached pension age
– You started to receive a meaningful state pension only after your husband died
– You did not receive any lump sum or state pension backpayment at the time you were widowed
If you fit all of these categories, your story should read something like the summary below.
When you reached pension age your husband hadn’t yet hit 65. You applied for a state pension and were told you were not entitled to anything (or perhaps just a few pence or a few pounds). Your husband later turned 65 and claimed his pension but you didn’t take any further action at this point and you continued on your very low (or zero) pension. Sadly he died and you were then awarded a meaningful widow’s pension – perhaps now worth £7,000 or more per year.
Did you miss out on a state pension lump sum?
When you were widowed, the Department for Work and Pensions should have looked at the period between when your husband turned 65 and when he died.
For that period, they should have awarded you a married woman’s pension. As you didn’t claim it, they should instead have paid it to you as a lump sum when you were widowed.
My concern is that this last step might have been missed out. And, because you are now on the correct rate of pension, no one may be checking for errors that occurred in the past.
I don’t know if this error just happened once in a while or if these lump sums were consistently missed.
But if anyone did miss out on a lump sum then that could still be fixed now, that’s why I want to hear from you.
If you are a widow who ‘ticks all the boxes’ at the start of this article – or if someone in your family fits this description – and you think you didn’t get a lump sum when your husband died, I would be interested to hear from you.
If there were individual errors and we can help people get the money that is rightfully theirs, then that would be worthwhile.
But if it turns out that there is a more systematic problem, and one which may not be picked up by the current correction exercise, then you will have played your part in helping potentially thousands of others who may have missed out.
How to contact Steve Webb
If you think you could have missed out on a state pension lump sum, please email the details below to Steve at [email protected] and put STATE PENSION WIDOW in the subject line.
Emails about this issue will be forwarded directly on to Steve, and he might use your contact details to reply to you direct.
– Your date of birth
– Your husband’s date of birth and the date when he died
– How much state pension you got when you first claimed – (this issue is only relevant to you if your answer here is nil or no more than a pound or two)
– How much state pension you get now
– Whether you received any lump sum when you were widowed, apart from your new regular pension.
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is now This is Money’s pension columnist and a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock, which provides pension services to businesses.
Steve and his firm host several websites which give free information and help about the state pension.
Underpaid widows (this site offers help to widows in general, but does not cover the issue raised above).