Tens of thousands of retired women must wait up to two and a half years for a pension rebate after being underpaid by the government.
DWP chiefs are hiring a 500-strong team to trawl through £3bn of “systematic” pension underpayments after a blunder emerged last year.
But despite tripling the number of staff, it will still take until the “end of 2023” to work through all cases, ministers admitted.
The error affects tens of thousands of married women whose husbands reached pensionable age before 2008.
Those hit were unknowingly entitled to ‘enhanced pension’ that would have boosted their payments by up to 60%.
Women began getting repayments in January and the Office for Budget Responsibility estimated it could take until 2026 to fix.
Pensions minister Guy Opperman today announced 360 staff will be recruited this year, adding to 150 already hired.
He said that would “speed up” repayments but added he now had “the aim to complete the exercise by the end of 2023”.
An unknown number of women have died before getting what they were owed.
Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, a partner at pension consultants LCP, told the Mirror: “It’s welcome that they are trebling the number of people working on the programme.
“But it does still mean that some women who were underpaid will have to wait at least another two years to get their right pension.
“They shouldn’t have to wait.”
He added: “It’s a reminder of the scale of the problem – the fact they have to employ over 500 people for the next two to three years shows just how many retired women and widows are affected.”
Previous estimates have suggested around 200,000 people could be owed payouts averaging £13,500, a total of £3bn.
But Mr Opperman told MPs it was too soon to estimate how many people will get payouts or what they will be worth.
Pensioners have been urged not to contact the government and will be written to if they are owed a payout.
Mr Opperman said: “We are fully committed to ensuring that any historical errors are addressed as quickly as possible to ensure that individuals receive the State Pension they are rightfully due in law.”