Thousands missing out on pension cash
According to population estimates, 8.78 million people across Britain are aged 70 or over.
But only 8.53 million receive a state pension, leaving a difference of a quarter of a million people, according to consultants LCP (Lane Clark & Peacock), which questioned whether they should really be missing out.
There are legitimate reasons why older people may not be receiving a state pension, for example, they may have chosen to defer it, particularly if they are still working.
Or they may not have built up sufficient national insurance (NI) contributions to qualify, or they may be receiving other benefits which reduce or eliminate their entitlement to a state pension.
But LCP claimed this only explains a fraction of the “missing” quarter of a million pensioners.
It said even those with a very poor NI record can access a state pension through one of two routes.
Firstly, married women can claim a 60 per cent basic pension based on their husband’s contributions.
And secondly, from the age of 80 onwards, people can get a state pension which does not depend on their NI record.
The report’s authors believe that a large proportion of this group could make a successful claim for an over-80s Category D state pension if they were aware of it.
LCP said around 107,000 people (65,000 women and 42,000 men) across Britain are aged 80 or over but have zero state pension.
If those aged 80 or over claimed their £82.45 per week, this would cost over £400 million per year in extra state pension payments.
Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister who is now a partner at LCP, said: “It is shocking that there are so many older people who are getting no state pension at all.
“In particular, when we have a special state pension payable to those over 80 which does not depend on national insurance contributions, it is hard to understand why over 100,000 people over 80 are still on zero pensions.
“The Government needs to do much more to identify those who are on zero state pensions and to make sure that they draw the pension to which they are entitled.”
Bernie Weallans 73, from Brighton, contacted Sir Steve after reading reports of some women being underpaid.
She was born in the Netherlands and was receiving no state pension in her own right because most of her paid work was outside the UK.
Her husband, Martin, 70, receives a state pension and the couple have been married for over 40 years.
It turned out that Mrs Weallans could have had a married woman’s state pension once her husband retired.
A regular pension of £82 is now being put into payment and arrears of over £20,000 are due to be paid.
Mrs Weallans said: “When I saw the recent coverage it made me wonder if I should be getting a pension and I was delighted when my application was successful.
“I would encourage any other woman who is not getting a pension to check whether she is entitled to anything.
“This extra money will enable me to do more to support my children and grandchildren.”
LCP is calling for a focused campaign to raise awareness among older people not getting a state pension.
This could include local authorities and health services who deal with the over-80s making sure that they are taking up their entitlement.
An alternative would be to pay Category D pensions automatically, without a special claim, it said.
For older people with cognitive impairments in particular, removing the need to complete a claims process could remove an important barrier to people getting what they are entitled to, it added.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We want everyone to claim the benefits to which they may be entitled and we urge anyone of state pension age, or their family and friends, to check if they are missing out on financial support.
“Anyone that thinks they may be eligible to receive a State Pension can find out how to apply via Gov.uk.”
For further information about over-80 state pension eligibility, you can visit www.gov.uk/over-80-pension/eligibility.
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