Uncovering Unpaid State Pensions: DWP’s Efforts to Rectify Errors

Uncovering Unpaid State Pensions: DWP’s Efforts to Rectify Errors

In 2020, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified a significant issue affecting individuals who had not received the rightful increase in their State Pension, as required by law. This prompted the DWP to launch an investigation into the extent of the problem, revealing that an estimated £300 million to £1.5 billion had been underpaid due to errors related to the recording of Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP). Tens of thousands of people are believed to be owed an average of £5,000 in back payments.

Understanding Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP)

HRP was a scheme designed to safeguard the entitlement to the State Pension for parents and carers. It was later replaced by National Insurance (NI) credits from April 6, 2010. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is leveraging NI records to identify individuals who might have been eligible for HRP between 1978 and 2010 but do not have HRP on their NI record.

Who is Affected?

Several groups of individuals may have been underpaid, including married women, people in civil partnerships, widows, and those over 80. This underpayment may be attributed to the omission of additional entitlements in their current State Pension payments.

Category BL (Cat BL): Married individuals or those in civil partnerships who reached State Pension age before April 6, 2016, may be entitled to a Category BL uplift based on their partner’s National Insurance contributions.

Missed Conversions: Individuals who have been widowed and did not see an increase in their State Pension to reflect the amounts they are entitled to inherit from their late spouse or civil partner.

Category D (Cat D): Individuals who reach the age of 80 and receive some Basic State Pension but less than £85.00 (in 2022-23) may be entitled to Cat D State Pension of £85.00 a week.

After May 2000, it became mandatory to include a National Insurance number on claims. Therefore, those claiming after this point should not have been affected.

How to Check If You Are Owed Money?

To determine if you have been underpaid your State Pension, a quick phone call to the pension service is recommended. The dedicated hotline is 0800 731 0469, and additional contact details can be found on the official gov.uk website.

Personal representatives are empowered to claim on behalf of deceased individuals. For eligibility criteria and claiming procedures, visit the dedicated HRP page on gov.uk: Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP).

Expected Updates:   

The State Pension LEAP (Legal Entitlements and Administrative Practice) exercise is slated to conclude by the end of 2024. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plans to send letters to thousands of older individuals in Autumn 2023 who may have been underpaid their State Pension due to missing information on their National Insurance (NI) record. This issue primarily affects women in their 60s and 70s who may have HRP missing from their NI record. Stay tuned for updates as the DWP works to rectify these discrepancies and ensure individuals receive their rightful State Pension entitlements.