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Hundreds of thousands more women found to have been underpaid their state pension - here's how to check if you're owed money

Hundreds of thousands more retirees, mainly women, have been found to have been underpaid their state pension, with the collective shortfall running to £1.5 billion, according to new Government figures. Here's how to check if you've been affected.

In its annual report published on Thursday (7 July 2022), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it now estimates it has underpaid 237,000 pensioners, mostly women, with some of the discrepancies - due to errors made when assessing claims - dating back as far as 1985.

The DWP had first calculated that 134,000 pensioners had lost out on just over £1 billion, which a public spending watchdog called a "shameful shambles" earlier this year. The revised figures come after the DWP undertook a new computerised scan of its data, which it says it was unable to do last year. 

The errors mostly affect widows, divorcees and women who rely on their husband’s pension contributions for some of their state pension. See below for more details, as well as our guide: Are you one of 10,000s of women missing out on £1,000s of state pension?

Here's who is affected

The following groups of women will be owed automatic pay-outs. They initially missed out on a top-up due to a DWP IT failure:

  • Married women who hit state pension age before April 2016 and whose husbands turned 65 on or after 17 March 2008. This applies if your state pension is less than 60% of your husband's basic state pension.
  • Widows whose pension didn't increase when their husbands were still alive. This applies if you hit state pension age before April 2016 and got less than 60% of your husband's basic state pension while he was still alive.
  • Widows who may have been underpaid since their husband died. Widows will often see their basic state pension increase when their husband dies, based on their late husband's contribution, plus some get extra on top from the 'second state pension'.   
  • Women aged 80+ who get a state pension of less than £80.45 a week – whether they're married, widowed, divorced or single. This little-known 'category D' non-contributory state pension isn't dependent on the national insurance contributions you or your spouse may have made.
  • If you're the heir of a woman who was underpaid state pension while alive and has since died. 

But it's not just the women detailed above who may be missing out on a state pension boost. Others could be due cash too, although they won't be covered by the Government's redress scheme. If you fall into any of the below two categories you'll most likely need to contact the Government to get your money back.

  • Married women who hit state pension age before April 2016 and whose husbands turned 65 before 17 March 2008. 
  • Divorced women who should have benefited from their ex-husband's national insurance record.

How to check if you're owed money and claim your payout

To check if you have been underpaid and are owed, contact the Pension Service and ask about your situation (also do this if you fall under any other categories but want to be sure you will get what you're owed). You can: 

  • Call 0800 731 0469 (press option two).
  • Or write to:
    The Pension Service
    Post Handling Site A
    WV98 1AF
  • Or you can find alternative contact details on the Pension Service website. 

See our Are you one of 10,000s of women missing out on £1,000s of state pension? guide for the full details on how to claim and what you need to know depending on your situation.

What does the DWP say?

A spokesperson for the DWP said: "The action we are taking now will correct historical underpayments made by successive Governments. We are fully committed to addressing these errors, not identified under previous Governments, as quickly as possible. We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources towards completing this."

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