Women who have been caught up in changes to the statutory retirement age have welcomed the latest key update in their compensation battle. An investigation has already revealed that the DWP failed to adequately inform 3.8 million women that their state retirement age would increase.
WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaigned after women born in the 1950s suddenly found they would have to work many more years when the retirement age was raised, first to 65 years, then at 66, to equalize it with retirement age. Men.
The Parliament and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) looked into the matter and ruled in the first stage of his investigation that the department had not acted quickly enough once it knew that a significant proportion of women were n were unaware of the changes. In its findings, the PHSO said that from 2005 there were deficiencies in the DWP’s efforts to communicate the new state retirement age.
And he says he now wants to move on to step two, which would determine whether there has been an injustice, before moving on to step three, which would recommend how to fix it.
READ MORE: DWP State Retirement Age Checker Gives Exact Date You Can Claim Your Pension
In a key update, the PHSO said: “We have asked the DWP to send us additional evidence by the end of March 2022. We cannot progress through the second stage of the investigation without this evidence.”
The second step will consider whether the maladministration resulted in an injustice to the complainants. said the mediator. “In the second stage, we will also examine complaints about the DWP failing to adequately communicate the required number of years of national insurance contributions to receive a full state pension, as well as the treatment of complaints by DWP and ICE.
“If we find that there has been an injustice that has not yet been corrected, we will move on to step three and make recommendations to redress the situation.”
A spokesperson for WASPI told the Express: “WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – is pleased that a certain time constraint has been added. This will allow this process to be concluded as quickly as possible.
“WASPI calls for fair and prompt compensation for all women born in the 1950s affected by the maladministration already found by the Ombudsman.”
Many women were not informed of the change in retirement age or were not given sufficient notice to make alternative arrangements. Some were forced to stay at work or live off their savings, which plunged them into poverty.
The ombudsman said the DWP should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did.
How much could the compensation be?
WASPI said it called on the government to “accept fair and adequate compensation rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of government inaction to continue.”
The Ombudsman’s recommended figures for compensation range from £100 to £10,000 and more.
There is no indication yet in which category the women’s pension battle might fall – but a similar situation where a communication breakdown caused a loss of income (in this case, to the fishermen) resulted in a compensation of £3,000, the lower end of a Level 5 unfairness “where the person affected has had a marked and detrimental effect on his or her ability to lead a relatively normal life.” In such cases, “recovery is likely to take a long time.”
The highest amount would be for a Level 6 case – the most serious and usually involving profound, devastating or irreversible impacts on the affected person. This includes circumstances where the person may be permanently affected or where recovery is likely to take several years.
The ombudsman has warned those affected by the miscommunications that he does not have the power to force the DWP to increase pensions or refund the money the women would have received if the retirement age had not been not increased.
He said: “Many claimants have told us that they are seeking reinstatement of their state pension, state retirement age to revert to 60 and/or compensation for the amount of the state pension. status they would have received if their retirement age had not changed.
“We are unable to recommend that the DWP reimburse ‘lost’ pensions. Nor can we recommend that anyone receive their state pension earlier than permitted by law. This would reverse or attempt to reverse the primary legislation.”
Are you a WASPI woman? That’s who qualifies
Women born on or after 6 April 1950 were affected by changes to the statutory retirement age introduced by the Pensions Act 1995 and subsequent years. A total of 3.8 million women are affected, WASPI said.
The Pensions Act 1995 provided that the legal retirement age for women was to be raised from 60 to 65, to match that of men. It had reached 65 in November 2018 and then rose to 66 for both men and women in October 2020.
About 300,000 women born between December 1953 and October 1954 – and approaching the legal retirement age – had to wait another 18 months. But others who were unaware of the 1995 changes had to wait years longer.
Two women have launched a fight against the DWP in the High Court. After losing, he then went to the Court of Appeal but the case was dismissed in September 2020.
The leading judges said that “the adoption of the same retirement age for men and women does not constitute unlawful discrimination under EU law or the Human Rights Convention”.
But the ombudsman said the Court of Appeal ruling did not affect his investigation, which sought to determine whether there had been maladministration.
Get all your benefits, finance and politics news with our free daily newsletters – you can sign up here to get all the latest updates straight to your inbox.