A quarter of a million people over the age of 70 get no state pension. And most of them probably could get one if they called the government’s Pension Service.
Not everyone is entitled to the state pension. Some may not have paid enough National Insurance Contributions to get one. A very few might have another benefit that overlaps with state pension (you cannot claim them both). And there will be those who have deliberately not claimed as they are still working and do not need it yet.
However, Steve Webb, the ex-pensions minister who discovered this gap and is now a partner at consultancy LCP, says the majority of the 250,000 could claim, and they fall into two main groups.
Men and women aged 80 or more who have lived in the UK for at least ten years before that age can get a state pension of £82.45 a week. It does not require any National Insurance Contributions and is not means-tested. Some people who have always been outside the labour market, or came to the UK late in life, may not know about this pension. More than 100,000 people could be in this category.
The other group is married women born before 6 April 1953 who have not claimed a state pension on their husband’s contributions. That pension is also £82.45 a week, but some women will not have claimed it when their husband reached pension age. If he was born before 17 March 1943 they had to claim to get it. Others may have never worked in the UK labour market and do not realise they are entitled.
So if you are over 70 and have no state pension call the Pension Service free on 0800 731 0469. Ignore the messages trying to make you hang up, press the right options, persist, and someone helpful will talk to you. Or you can visit gov.uk and search “pension service”. Do it soon, as the pension will only be backdated for 12 months. For more information, go to lcp.uk.com and search “missing pensioners”.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.