Over two years ago I wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions in Wolverhampton to ask if my late mother was due any pension payments with all these cases coming up.
I wasn’t sure if I owed him anything, but when I asked, I got a standard response saying I didn’t need to do anything else, just wait and they’d get back to me. So nothing at all.
I filled out the online form several times and got no response. I have called asking and each time I get a different answer. One was, ‘Wow, two years, that’s a long time, let me verify that yes, your mother’s claim hasn’t been settled yet.
Looking for answers: I want to know if my late mother received a poorly paid state pension, but I get nowhere (File Image)
A week before I called and someone else said someone was looking at it, but since it’s a historical claim it will take a while.
I have not heard anything at all and more than two years is bad. Are they leaving the relationships of the deceased for last? Can you help me? I just want to check, but I get nowhere, I just passed and they gave me another story.
SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW TO ASK STEVE HIS PENSION QUESTION
Steve Webb responds: The Government has admitted that the many errors in state pensions that have been discovered in recent years have affected not only those still receiving a pension, but also those who have sadly died.
In this column I will explain how the Government plans to fix things in such cases.
It may help to look separately at the two different billion-pound-plus bugs that DWP has acknowledged.
The first is the set of bugs first identified by This is Money. Generally speaking, these relate to errors that occurred once someone started collecting their pension.
In particular, many thousands of married and widowed women did not reassess their state pension when their husband retired or died.
Lost a lump sum state pension if you were widowed?
This is Money columnist Steve Webb calls elderly widows who might have missed a late payment when their husbands passed away to get in touch.
She wants to help people get the money that is rightfully theirs, and to find out if there is a systemic problem that went undetected in the government’s massive fix exercise for underpaid older women.
Find out if you might be affected and how to contact Steve here.
> Did you lose your state pension if you were widowed when you retired?
In addition, thousands of people with very low pensions failed to get an automatic increase when they turned 80.
To fix this group of bugs, DWP has launched a project that started in January 2021 and is not expected to finish until the end of 2024.
According to the most recent Annual report of the Department of Work and Pensionst, have so far made payments worth £324 million to just over 50,000 people in respect of these errors.
In total, DWP expects to make payments to 170,000 people worth just under £1.2bn.
The exercise is prioritizing those who are alive, so payments to the estate of those who have died are more likely to be made in 2024 than this year.
This of course raises the question of how DWP will find the next of kin.
They estimate they will only find relatives in about 75 percent of cases where there was a poorly paid married woman’s pension, and only about 57 percent of cases where a widow was underpaid or someone over 80 was underpaid.
To help with this, as you say, they have created a ‘next of kin portal’ titled Request information on insufficient state pension for deceased person that allows families to register their data.
However, recording information here does not mean that you will “jump the queue” or get a quick response. It simply means that if and when they review the support payments of a deceased loved one, they will *at that time* have the correct information to contact next of kin.
Unfortunately, there probably isn’t much else you can do at this stage after you’ve entered your details.
Turning now to the second billion-pound over error in state pensions, this is the one that arises from ‘Household Liability Protection’ recording errors in the National Insurance records of over 200,000 parents, mostly mothers.
In its most recent annual report, the DWP said it probably underpaid a total of 210,000 people and will pay around £1bn. Of these people, 150,000 are still alive, but 60,000 have already died.
A combination of people potentially not coming forward to claim along with problems tracking people down means they are budgeting to pay around £1.2bn to 187,000 people.
This is based on finding around 95 percent of those still alive and just under three-quarters of those who are deceased.
If anyone thinks a deceased parent might have been underpaid for this reason I would again encourage them to register using the ‘next of kin portal’.
Although this does not guarantee any swift action, as you have seen, it does mean that if the DWP or HMRC are investigating a loved one’s case, they will know who to contact.
HMRC has yet to say much about how they will tackle the HRP issue. It’s clear some letters will be written, but HMRC has very little idea who might have missed out. Therefore, they are likely to rely in part on general advertising.
One useful thing you can do to prepare for this is to collect information on the children (now likely adults) for whom the late parent was receiving child allowance in the 1980s and 1990s.
HMRC will want to know full names, dates of birth and national insurance numbers, and if it can collect this information it will improve the chances that the HRP can be successfully awarded in a timely manner.
A final challenge in establishing the right is the fact that official records are often deleted, so it can be difficult to prove something that happened many years ago.
For example, child benefit records dating back to the 1980s and 1990s no longer exist, hence the need to collect other information on children at that time.
But NI records were also often deleted several years after the last member of a couple died.
While DWP has temporarily stopped deleting historical records, if your loved one died many years ago, it is highly unlikely that their records have been preserved, and therefore unlikely to show up in any computer scan of the NI database.
HMRC delayed updating my state pension record with top-ups AND credits for grandparents
A reader who hit not one, but two ‘bottlenecks’ at HMRC finally got somewhere after This is Money and I intervened on his behalf.
After I highlighted the delay in updating your National Insurance record in a recent column, the reader continued to fight to fix it and get reimbursed for the voluntary contributions that doubled several qualifying years you were owed.
She made an official complaint, but at one point was told by a staff member that the whole process, which involves HMRC updating her NI record and DWP recalculating her state pension, could take up to a year.
We flagged her case back to HMRC, and a spokesperson said: ‘We have apologized to Ms. [name redacted] and updated your National Insurance record. We have returned to him the voluntary contributions he made that were not necessary.
“The voluntary National Insurance deadline has been extended to April 2025. The vast majority of paid voluntary contributions will be updated within a few days, but complex cases need manual processing so may take longer to resolve.”
This case must now be with the Department for Work and Pensions for his state pension to be resolved, which will start next month.
This is Money has also covered delays there following a rush of people buying state pension supplements before a key deadline was pushed back another two years.
But you will be assured that if your DWP account is not updated on time, it will not be harmed and underpayments will be rectified. Hopefully, the end of the saga is now in sight for this stubborn reader.
> State pension recharge problem? Email email@example.com
Ask Steve Webb a pension question
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is Uncle Agony from This Is Money.
He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you’re still saving, in the process of leaving work, or juggling your finances in retirement.
Steve left the Department for Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at the actuary and consultancy firm Lane Clark & Peacock.
If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve will do his best to respond to your message in a future column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his responses constitutes regulated financial advice. Posted questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
Include a daytime contact number with your message; it will be kept confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.
If Steve can’t answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that provides free pension assistance to the public. can be found here and his number is 0800 011 3797.
SteveWe get a lot of questions about state pension provisions and COPE, the outsourced pension equivalent. If you write to Steve about this topic, here he answers a typical reader’s question about COPE and state pension.
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