- Women already divorced at pension age, or women who are later divorced, may lose cash
- Yvonne Hooper, 77, received £60k and is now on a full basic state pension
- The retired shop owner says, “It never occurred to me that I could get pension on my ex-husband’s contribution.
- Steve Webb urges divorced people to contact DWP to investigate payments
- Payments to divorced women do not affect the amount received by former husbands
- If the divorced man’s NI record is worse than that of his ex-wife, he can also claim
- The DWP says to get in touch if you get divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved
Yvonne Hooper: ‘I feel like I’ve won the lottery’
A 77-year-old woman who admitted she did not qualify for a state pension says ‘I have won the lottery’ after receiving a backpayment of £60,000.
London-born Yvonne Hooper was widowed as a young woman and was divorced twice until she reached pension age in 2004.
A retired shopkeeper who remarried 17 years ago and now lives in Spain, says: ‘It never occurred to me that I could get a pension on my ex-husband’s contribution and never could.
Claim for all women without pension to see if you have pension arrears. I am really grateful to all the people who have helped me achieve this.
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, who intervened in Mrs Hopper’s case to get her a lump sum and a full basic pension of £137.60 per week, also urged divorced women to check their state pension.
Mrs Hooper says she did not claim her state pension at age 60, explaining: ‘I was still running my business which was doing well and by the age of 65 I inquired for the first time and I Was told I didn’t have enough credit.
‘So, as I was still working and well, I never bothered with it again for many years. Then whenever I tried he gave me the same answer.’
Divorce and the state pension: Scroll down to find out if you’re exempt, and what to do
In 2017, Mrs Hooper had a serious car accident that damaged her skull and lower spine, and has not been able to work since.
After Webb and This Is Money learned that some women had been losing large sums of state pension for decades, he approached them for help.
And she says that when she took up her case with DWP, the staff handling her claim ‘went the extra mile’, because divorce matters can be complicated and she lives abroad.
She had to make important choices about getting her ‘deferred’ pension, and says the staff were patient and helpful to her in resolving it.
“Without a pension for 17 years, I will now get a salary of over £60,000 and a regular pension,” she says. ‘I feel like I’ve won the lottery.’
Webb, who is now a partner in the LCP, says: ‘I would urge any woman who has reached pension age, or is divorced after retiring, to ensure that she has access to her pension. Have claimed and notified the DWP of your divorce.
Why are some women being paid less than the state pension?
An estimated 134,000 women have been paid less than state pensions in a £1 billion scandal uncovered by Webb and This Is Money more than a year ago.
Failure to increase payments to some women when their husbands reached state pension age or died, or when they themselves reached age 80 resulted in huge bills.
We have reported numerous stories of women receiving payments of thousands of pounds – and in some cases more than £100,000 – after being denied a corrected state pension due to DWP errors.
Meanwhile, our sister publication Money Mail last year highlighted how older women who get divorced later in life can be missing out on thousands of pounds in state pensions.
Have you been underpaid? Find out what to do here.
‘I’m glad Mrs Hopper has got this big advantage, but I have no doubt that there are thousands of divorced women who are not getting what they are doing.
‘It is important that they claim pension if they have not done so and inform the DWP if they divorce in retirement.’
Webb describes the information currently on the gov.uk website for those who are up for divorce as ‘at least, at least’.
Her firm LCP has created a website where divorced women can find out more about the rules Here.
Why are some divorced women missing from state pension?
Steve Webb says the issue affects women who fall under the ‘old’ state pension system – from April 2016 before it was revised.
That is, those who were born before 6 April 1953.
State pension payments to divorced women do not affect the amount received by their former husbands.
If the husband has a poorer National Insurance record than his ex-wife, he can claim a higher state pension on that basis as well.
The web identifies two groups of divorced women most likely to go missing.
1. Women Divorced at the Time of Retirement
Webb states that these women can get state pension based on their ex-husband’s NI contribution, even if they have a poor record of their own.
‘Those who get divorced on reaching pension age can ask the DWP to ‘replace’ the NI record of their ex-husband by the date of divorce.
‘Those who divorce later in life are especially likely to benefit because they can replace their ex-spouse’s records for a longer period.’
If they claim and mark ‘divorced’ on state pension claim forms it should in theory happen automatically — but it depends on who’s claiming in the first place, Webb says.
‘A woman who had never claimed at the age of pension can now claim and her pension can be returned to the age of state pension.’
2. Women who divorced after retirement but never informed DWP
Webb said these women can re-evaluate their basic state pension using their ex-husband’s contribution, but they will have to inform the DWP about their “change of circumstances”.
‘Those who retire after getting married but can also ask for divorce after retirement…