is supporting a major petition highlighting the plight of hundreds of thousands of women aged 55-65 who will be hardest hit by changes to the state pension. We're urgently calling on everyone to sign it today to ensure that 'fair transitional arrangements' are debated in Parliament.

More than 55,600 people have so far backed the petition set up by the action group Women Against State Pension Inequality – you can sign it here. It calls on the Government to step in and help those born in the 1950s who will have to wait longer than expected to receive their state pension due to rises in the state pension age.

The petition claims "hundreds of thousands of women have had significant changes imposed on them with a lack of appropriate notification". Last month Sarah Pennells, founder of , warned  in a guest comment on that many of those affected have been left with little time to try to plug their savings.

Today MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis lent his backing to the petition and said even those not directly affected by the changes should add their names to "establish a principle" over how this kind of far-reaching change should be handled.

'These types of changes must be done the right way'

Martin says: "The success of this petition so far shows there is a great swathe of women across Britain who are rightly angry about the way their state pensions have been handled.

"The issue here isn't just 'how much', but more that if you're going to change the provisions and finance available to someone for the rest of their life, then it's only fair to give them decent due notice so they can organise their affairs accordingly.

"It's something we should all take an interest in, as we need to establish a principle that these types of changes must be done the right way. That's why I support this petition, as a debate would bring proper parliamentary scrutiny of the way this episode has been handled."

Sign the petition to get MPs to debate women's state pension changes
Women's state pension petition gathers over 50,000 signatures

Why will some women lose out under the state pension changes?

There are two separate increases of the state pension age currently underway.

  • Under the 1995 Pensions Act, the Government decided the pension ages of men and women would be equalised by 2020. Previously, women retired at 60 and men at 65.
  • In 2011 the state pension age for both men and women was raised to 66.

These changes mean women born after 5 April 1950 will receive their state pensions later than expected – in some cases six years later.

Many women who had been expecting to start drawing their state pensions between 2016 and 2020 only found out in 2011 – with the additional change in state pension ages – that they would face a delay.

Some women have argued they weren't informed of the rise in their state pension age at all. The WASPI groups claim women affected haven't been left with much time to make alternative plans – and that existing retirement plans have been "shattered with devastating consequences". However, the Department for Work and Pensions claims it did take appropriate steps to notify women of the changes.

Which age brackets are most affected?

The date on which you'll receive your state pension depends on exactly when you were born – the Government has published full state pension age timetables here. But in brief:

  • Women born after 5 April 1950 are affected by the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 (following the changes in the 1995 Pensions Act).
  • Women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 October 1954 are affected by both the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 and the rise of the state pension age to 66.
  • Women born between 6 October 1954 and 5 April 1960 will see their state pension age rise to 66.
  • The next rise in the state pension age, to 67, will apply to men and women born after 6 March 1961 (and be phased in for those born between 6 April 1960 and 5 March 1961).

What happens next?

The petition runs until 20 April 2016. Parliamentary petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are highly likely to be debated in Parliament – though technically they need to receive the backing of the Petitions Committee, which is made up of 11 backbench MPs from different parties.