As a Waspi woman (Women Against State Pensions Inequality) whose state pension has been delayed by six years, I finally qualify this month.
Even though I have 40 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions, I didn’t really expect a full pension of Â£ 179.60 per week because I was contracted out to state supplemental schemes while working for local government and the NHS.
But I was shocked that the final amount was only Â£ 157.90 per week, which is Â£ 1,128.40 per year less than full board. I asked for a breakdown – and the problems started. Over the past few months, I have spoken 14 times to the DWP, the Future Pension Center, and the HMRC.
Modified short: despite 40 years of IN contributions and waiting another six years, a reader receives Â£ 1,128.40 per year less than a full pension
I know I can buy additional years through NI contributions. But I don’t want to make payments that might not improve my pension.
RM, Scarborough, N. Yorks.
Tony Hazell replies: By attempting to simplify the state pension in 2016, the government created a digital nightmare for those caught up in the changeover.
The main fact is that you need 35 years of full national insurance contributions to get the new full state pension.
The key words are “full”. Most people pay less and therefore receive less pension, which leads to confusion, disappointment and not a little anger.
Here’s why. Before April 2016, many people were excluded from state supplements (known as Serps, second state pension and phased retirement allowance) and were entitled to an employer pension for at least part of their career .
They paid a lower rate of NI, which now translates into a smaller state pension.
The average public pension paid to a 66-year-old woman in November last year was Â£ 160.87 per week, while men were paid Â£ 166.18.
The average received by women in the late 1970s was only Â£ 133.56 per week, while men received Â£ 169.09.
By the way, if the triple lockdown had been maintained, women in the late 1970s would have seen their average pensions increase to Â£ 144 a week – but men with six-figure wages and big private pensions decided that that would be too much.
Of 12.3 million retirees, only 7.3 million receive at least Â£ 150 per week. Over 1.8 million receive less than Â£ 100 per week.
It is therefore essential to fill in the gaps. But it is complex, and some people have paid supplements which have not changed their pension. DWP then told them it was their fault.
Your own question was simple and someone should have been able to answer it without you having to go. But DWP has finally confirmed what you already suspected.
You retired from your NHS pension at age 60 in 2015, but it’s only worth making voluntary contributions for years missed since April 2016. Everything before that would fall under the old scheme and disappear into a hole black.
Four of those years would earn you an extra Â£ 5.13 per week of boarding each, but the fifth would buy Â£ 1.18 per week, as you would hit the maximum weekly board.
The first three years from 2016 cost Â£ 800.80 while 2019/20 costs Â£ 780. For a total of Â£ 3,182.40 you will receive Â£ 1,067.04 per year of additional pension, which is a steal.
You decided not to buy last year, but even paying the Â£ 795.60 it would cost for the income of Â£ 1.18 per week is a steal. This equates to almost 8 pc, which tilts commercial annuity rates into a horned hat.
As it stands, your pension will be Â£ 178.42 per week after you’ve made all four payments.
Over the next 20 years, you could get almost Â£ 28,000 in additional pension for your investment of Â£ 3,182.40, assuming future governments stick to the commitment to increase pensions by at least 2.5 % per year.
An important point to stress: the employer’s pension had to be at least equivalent to the state pension lost due to contracting out – so no one should be worse off to do that.
Spec savers can’t see my point
I started having migraines in early 2018 and needed to improve my eyeglass prescription as well.
I visited Specsavers in October, mentioned migraines, and bought two pairs of varifocal glasses for Â£ 374.
I took a pair home to see how I got along with them. I couldn’t wear them for long as they would trigger a migraine. Specsavers changed the lenses three times. Then Covid struck.
Due to confinement, migraines and the care of my vulnerable father, I did not return until July 2021.
I was told that since so much time had passed I would have to pay an extra Â£ 200 to have new glasses prepared.
NS, Bromley, Kent.
Tony Hazell replies: Migraines can have many causes, including diet, genetics, and age, but to my knowledge, glasses are not one of them.
Also, given the time that has passed, it is very likely that you will need a new prescription.
Some people have trouble with varifocal lenses, so I asked Specsavers to verify that they’ve done everything they can reasonably do.
A spokesperson for Specsavers said: âWe have seen an increase in the number of people working from home and spending more time looking at screens, which has led some people to find variable focal lengths more difficult.
âIt can cause eye strain and headaches, but wouldn’t cause migraines. “
It looks like your Specsavers branch has bent over backwards to help you. However, he will give you a pair of glasses designed for computer use, as a one-time goodwill gesture.
I can’t cash my late son’s premium bonds
In 2019, my son passed away, at the age of 27, while living in Bangkok, Thailand.
When I asked to cash his premium bonds, I sent my son’s original death certificate to NS&I as requested. Then he requested a letter from a notary in Thailand.
After several months of trying to get help from people in Thailand, I was told the fees would be almost as high as the value of the Premium Bond.
SH, Epsom, Surrey.
Why do some organizations make it so difficult for bereaved loved ones? They may be looking to prevent fraud, but can it surely be done without creating obstacles, expense and stress for the bereaved?
In this case, it appears that the NS&I customer team misread their fraud prevention policies.
Apparently NS&I requires a death certificate and a statement from an attorney / lawyer or notary confirming that payment of monies to the claimant is correct under the laws of the country if the detention is over Â£ 1,000.
In this case, the detention was exactly Â£ 1,000, so no proof was needed. But those planning to live abroad should think about this hurdle when investing.
The NS&I customer team phoned you to apologize for their mistake and made the payment. He also added Â£ 100 as a goodwill gesture.
You tell me that your son’s bonds also won two prizes of Â£ 25 and that you received a check in the mail last week.
- Write to asktony @ dailymail. co.uk or Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Please include your phone number, address, and a note to the offending organization giving permission to speak to Tony Hazell. We regret that we cannot respond to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal liability can be accepted by the Daily Mail for the answers given
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