Tens of thousands of women are likely to have been underpaid the state pension, and many could be due £1,000s – some even more. Married women who reached state pension age before April 2016, including widows, divorcees, and over-80s whether married or not, should check. While some women owed will now get an automatic payment, not all will.

Who can claim?

There are six groups who might want to get in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to get their state pension payments reviewed:

  • Married women whose husband turned 65 before 17 March 2008 – If you never claimed an uplift to the 60% rate, you could be missing out
  • Widows whose pension wasn’t increased when their husband died – You could potentially receive a 100% basic state pension, plus a percentage of your late husband’s additional state pension
  • Widows whose pension is now correct, but may have been underpaid while their late husband was still alive – This is particularly important if your late husband reached 65 after 17 March 2008
  • Over-80s who are getting less than £82.45 as a basic pension, provided that they satisfied a basic residence test when they turned 80
  • Widowers and heirs of married women – Where the woman has now died, but was underpaid state pension during her life, particularly in cases where her husband turned 65 after 17 March 2008, as payments can be made to beneficiaries
  • Divorced women (particularly those who divorced post-retirement) – You should check that you’re benefiting from the contributions of your ex-husband

In order to ask the DWP to start paying the state pension at the correct rate and to claim backdated payments, you will need to identify which category you fall within above. The DWP claims that it wrote to those affected to alert them, but many say they never got a letter, leading to the current unclaimed state pension situation.

How much unpaid state pension could I be owed?

To work out what payment you might be able to claim, you will need to look at the rate of married women’s pensions.

For 2021-22, the full basic state pension is £137.60 per week, and the rate for married women claiming 60% would be £82.45 per week. It was lower in previous years – £80.45 in 2020-21 – and goes up every April.

Based on this, you can calculate what you could be owed as follows:

  • If you add up 52 weeks of married woman’s pension from 2008/09 up until 2020/21, that gives you a total of £45,604 (although some women will be entitled to less)
  • If your husband reached state pension age earlier than 2008, the payment could be larger
  • However, if your husband decided to defer his state pension, your pay-out will only be backdated to when he started drawing it, which could affect how much you will get

How do I check to see if I am owed state pension?

Contact the Pension Service online (https://www.gov.uk/contact-pension-service) or call on 0800 731 0469. Make sure you have the following details to hand:

  • Your name, date of birth, and NI number
  • Current annual basic state pension – you should be able to find this on your latest annual statement, but if not, give the total weekly or monthly amount
  • Husband’s name, date of birth (and date of death if this applies), and NI number

You will then be told whether you’re receiving less than you’re entitled to.

Information for readers: This material is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm