Thousands of divorced women could be getting too little state pension because the Department for Work and Pensions did not recalculate their pension when their marriage ended.


The women affected were born before 6 April 1953, so they get the old state pension, not the new one. And they got divorced after they reached state pension age. For most of this group that was 60, but for anyone born from 6 April 1950, it would be between 60 and 63.

Many of these women will not get a full basic state pension, which is currently £134.25 a week. Some may get as little as £80.45. That could be boosted to the full amount – an extra £53.80 a week or nearly £2,800 a year.

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Under the rules of the old state pension, a divorced woman can use her ex-husband’s National Insurance contributions as if they were her own. They can be used to
fill in the gaps left by paying the reduced married woman’s contributions, or when they did not work, or did work but earned too little to pay National Insurance.

Women who divorce before state pension age should automatically have their ex-husband’s record used instead of their own, if it increases their pension. But women already claiming a state pension when they get divorced do not have their pension automatically revised by DWP, so must remind them to do that. Most divorced women are unaware of this and many continue to get a reduced pension, either on their own contributions or the £80.45 paid to married women.

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If you remarried before reaching state pension age, you lose the right to use your ex-husband’s contributions, but remarrying after state pension age does not affect this right. Most men who worked will have enough contributions for a full state pension. If your ex did not, then your pension may not be boosted to the full amount.
Claiming the extra won’t affect your ex’s pension and he will never know you have used his contributions.

Claim by calling the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898 between 9.30am–2.30pm Monday to Friday. Let me know how you get on.

QUESTIONS? Send any questions to I cannot answer you personally, but I will reflect them in my column within Radio Times magazine.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4