Time to take what’s yours – state pensions

Don’t stand for being shortchanged on state pensions, says Paul Lewis

Senior woman looking at camera

Hundreds of thousands of married women, widows, and over-80s have been paid too little state pension for many years – to the tune of £3 billion. But you can now get what’s owed to you. The average payment will be £13,500, but some are due tens of thousands of pounds in backdated payments.

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People in the following three groups should be paid automatically, though the process may take a few years. Claiming now can speed things up.

  • Women born before 6 April 1953, whose husband was born 17 March 1943 or later. If you get a basic state pension of less than £82.45 a week
    (at the new rates from April) you will have your pension topped up to that amount, plus extra pension back to the date you reached state
    pension age.
  • Widows born before 6 April 1953 who get a basic state pension of less than £137.60 a week. You should have it topped up to that amount with extra pension paid back to the day you were widowed.
  • Over-80s who get a basic state pension of less than £82.45 a week.  You will get your basic rate increased to this amount, and extra pension backdated to your 80th birthday.


Two other groups will not be paid automatically, and will therefore have to make a claim.

  • Married women born before 6 April 1953, whose husband was born before 17 March 1943, and get a weekly state pension of less than £82.45 a week. It can be topped up to that amount, but you must claim it, and it will only be backdated 12 months.
  • Divorced women can sometimes get a bigger pension by using their ex-husband’s national insurance contributions instead of their own.  If that didn’t happen when you divorced, you can claim now, but the extra will only be backdated 12 months.

To claim, phone the DWP on 0800 731 0469, and ignore the messages that try to put you off calling. Then select “other enquiry” and “state pension”. Have your pension details to hand. If people entitled to the money have died, the department will try to find their heirs, as they can claim, too.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4

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