More than 74,000 married women receive a windfall of £ 23,000 for underpaid state pensions.
They are part of a group of 200,000 retirees, including widows and over-80s, who owe a total of £ 3 billion.
The fund was announced after the government identified systematic shortcomings to automatically grant retirement benefits stretching up to 30 years.
Secretary for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey said the government is conducting a forensic investigation of data to identify and pay the arrears
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, widowers owe an average of £ 17,000, rising to £ 23,000 for married women.
And 72,000 over-80s have to repay more than £ 10,000 on average.
The government will disburse the money in lump sums totaling more than £ 570 million a year until 2026.
Former pension secretary Sir Steve Webb, who exposed the blunder, said the numbers were “a reminder of the magnitude of what went wrong.”
But Sir Steve, now a partner at consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock, wondered if the five-year timetable was urgent enough, given that some women had been “underpaid for decades.”
I was paid 11k – after 1 phone call
Anne Psaros was delighted to receive £ 11,600 after discovering that her weekly pension was £ 23.52 underpaid.
The retired lithographer, 79, had no idea that the Department of Work and Pensions had failed to upgrade her pension to the married women rate when her husband Anthony retired more than a decade ago.
But when Anthony, 76, read in Money Mail last year about the women’s retirement scandal, the couple made inquiries.
A short phone call to the DWP confirmed that Ms. Psaros from Poole in Dorset was underpaid.
The lump sum ended up in her account two weeks later and Ms Psaros now receives £ 81.06 a week. She said, “I had no idea I should have gotten a better pension and women won’t lose anything by calling to see if they qualify for more.”
The scandal concerns the old state pension system, meaning it affects women who retired before April 2016.
They are entitled to a state pension of 60 percent of their spouse’s basic rate, if this is higher than a pension based on their own contributions.
Hundreds of thousands of women have missed out because the process to claim an additional amount of state pension based on their husband’s data was not made automatic until 2008.
Some women have already discovered that they owe six-figure sums.
But up to 80,000 affected women do not get a penny back.
Married women who were entitled to the pay rise before March 2008 will not be informed whether they have missed out on anything.
This is because it was their duty to apply for the extra pension before the law changed so it became the government’s responsibility to grant it automatically.
Money Mail has campaigned to get women to get all the money they are missing out on. The law currently means they can reverse a claim with as little as 12 months.
Many women who have lost thousands of pounds maintain that they have not been properly informed of their right to justice by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Mail revealed last year that the department had sent the vital forms to their husbands when it came time to file a claim.
This revelation is now used by women in a complaint of maladministration to the Parliamentary Ombudsman against the DWP.
Baroness Ros Altmann, also a former Pensions Minister, called for a full investigation into what went wrong and for a broader review of the pension gap between men and women.
She said: ‘It is really worrying that so many women could have lived or been forced to live on far less pension than they should have paid.
But even when women called the DWP, they were told, ‘No, your state pension is correct.’
The civil servants and employees who were trained to help people with their state pensions also did not seem to know the rules.
Hundreds of thousands of women missed out because the process of applying for an additional amount of AOW benefits was not made automatic until 2008
‘I am very happy that the government is now taking it seriously, but it has taken a long time. Unfortunately, many women passed away without ever enjoying the extra money. ‘
She added: ‘We have made progress on the gender pay gap. But as for the gender pension gap, we’re not even close to where we should be. ‘
Secretary of Work and Pensions Therese Coffey said, “The numbers remain highly uncertain at this stage. We conduct a forensic investigation of our records to find and pay for overdue payment arrears so that people do not need to proactively contact the department.
‘The vast majority of the cases we have assessed so far have the correct level of AOW and no arrears in payment.’