More than 100,000 retirees could be losing out on thousands of pounds every year because they have not been told they can now claim a state pension.
State pension rules mean that those who do not qualify for the benefit when they reach retirement age could still later be entitled — but the Government is not informing them if and when they can claim.
Analysis by former pension minister Sir Steve Webb today reveals that more than 250,000 people over 70 are not collecting any state pension whatsoever.
Pressure: The Department for Work and Pensions is being urged to do more to ensure that every one entitled to a pension is aware of their right to claim
Yet many will now be entitled to claim at least £82.45 a week — simply because they are aged over 80.
The new figures show at least 100,000 over 80s receive no pension at all, according to the new report from consultancy Lane Clark and Peacock (LCP).
It is also feared that many wives without pensions are missing out because they do not know they can claim a rate based on their husband’s work record.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now being urged to do more to ensure that everyone entitled to a pension is aware of their right to claim.
Someone may not qualify for a pension when they reach state pension age if they have not paid enough National Insurance contributions — perhaps because they did not work enough, or if they spent most of their working lives in another country.
But those who retired before April 2016 under the old state pension system can still claim an income later on in retirement.
All UK residents over 80 can claim £82.45 a week, more than £4,000 a year, if they have lived in the country for ten of the last 20 years — irrespective of their work record.
Wives can also claim a rate worth 60 per cent of their husband’s basic pension, while widows and divorcees can collect the same rate as their husband did.
Left out: It is feared that many wives without pensions are missing out because they do not know they can claim a rate based on their husband’s work record
It comes as analysis from Sir Steve, a partner at LCP, last year found that tens of thousands of older women were missing out on a better pension.
The scandal unfolded to reveal that government admin blunders meant around 200,000 women were owed close to £3 billion.
The DWP has now hired 500 extra staff to trawl their records and identify all women being underpaid.
But Sir Steve says this search is unlikely to include the hundreds of thousands of retirees who do not collect a state pension at all, but could now be entitled to.
Today’s report reveals that while there are 8.78 million in Great Britain aged 70 or over, only 8.53 million are receiving a state pension — a difference of a quarter of a million people.
Some of the missing pensioners could be those over 70s who have deferred their state pension to claim later, or those who receive certain disability or carer benefits that can reduce their entitlement.
I went from nothing to £82 a week
Bernie Weallans was not told she would one day be entitled to collect a pension based on her husband’s work record
Dutch-born Bernie Weallans, 73, spent most of her working life outside of the UK, so did not earn a state pension herself.
When Bernie turned 60, she was not entitled to a pension. But she was not told she would one day be entitled to collect a rate based on her British husband Martin’s work record when he turned 65.
The couple, who both worked in the oil industry and now live in Brighton, have been married for more than 40 years.
A friend of Bernie contacted Sir Steve after reading news coverage of the married women underpaid their pensions.
The DWP has since paid Bernie more than £20,000 in missed payments because her married woman’s pension should have been paid automatically five years ago. She now also receives £82.45 a week.
Bernie says: ‘This extra money will now enable me to do more in order to support my children and grandchildren.’
They could also be those with major gaps in National Insurance contributions. Retirees need to contribute for at least 25 per cent of their adult life to qualify for any rate of state pension.
But the LCP report found that there were around 107,000 people (65,000 women and 42,000 men) who were aged 80 and over, but still received no state pension. Sir Steve says: ‘It is shocking that there are so many older people who are getting no state pension.
‘When we have a special state pension payable to those over 80 which does not depend on National Insurance contributions, it is hard to understand why more than 100,000 people over 80 are still on zero pensions.
‘The Government needs to do much more to identify those who are on zero state pensions and to make sure that they draw the pension to which they are entitled.’
If 100,000 people aged 80 or over were to claim a £82.45 per week, this would cost the DWP more than £400 million extra a year.
He says those over 80 may not know if and how they can make a claim.
The LCP report says more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst older people who are not receiving a state pension.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says it was ‘totally unacceptable’ that the government did not proactively tell the over 80s they could claim a state pension.
She says: ‘The policy must urgently change so that this substantial number of over 80s get the money they are due.
‘We can only wonder at how they are managing to survive without any help from the state.
‘Making ends meet must be a constant struggle and it’s appalling to think just how much more comfortable their lives would be if the Government reached out to them once they became entitled.’
The state pension on offer to those over 80 is known as a Category D pension. It is worth 60 per cent of the basic state pension rate.
But those entitled have to claim the pension themselves in order to receive it. So anyone late to making a claim can only have the pension pay backdated for a year.
A DWP spokesman says: ‘We want everyone to claim the benefits they may be entitled to and we urge anyone of state pension age to check if they are missing out on financial support.
‘Anyone that thinks they may be eligible to receive a state pension can find out how to apply via gov.uk.’
To see if you could claim, visit lcp.uk.com/zero-state-pension.
TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.