The government has announced that it is to distribute up to £1bn to 134,000 people after underpaying their state pension over the course of several decades.
It is good news that those who have missed out will be enjoying a bonus, but it comes as a reminder to the rest of us that we cannot leave anything to do with our pensions to chance.
At Continuum we are looking at why this demonstrates the importance of getting professional support for your pension planning.
What went wrong with the state pension?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has discovered that more than £1 billion-worth of state pensions has been underpaid. It estimates that it underpaid 134,000 pensioners and those it can trace will be paid an average of £8,900, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.
The problems were due to repeated human errors described as almost inevitable because of complex rules and outdated IT systems used by the DWP.
The biggest single error was an underpayment of £128,000, but with errors going back as far as 1985, there could be other large sums owing. Most of those affected are likely to be women and the full value of the underpayments will only become clear once the DWP has completed its reviews.
An estimated £339 million will go to pensioners who should have benefited from their spouse’s or civil partner’s national insurance (NI) record; £568 million to widows and widowers who should have inherited more state pension entitlement from their deceased partner; and £146 million to pensioners who should have had an increase in their pension at their 80th birthday.
With 1.4 million “open tasks” on the DWP database, some dating back to 2005, it looks as though there could be many thousands of older women being short-changed on their state pensions.
Even if you are not one of those looking forward to a belated bonus from the state, this scandal shows why a clear understanding of your state pension entitlements must be part of pension planning.
Getting expert help with your pension plans
The state pension is a key factor in many people’s retirement planning. Those entitled to the full new State Pension, with 35 years of national Insurance contributions should be able to enjoy £9,339 a year from the state, equal to around £179.60 a week. For those entitled to the full basic state pension the figure is £137.60 per week. Alongside an employer’s pension and a personal pension, it could provide an important income stream, which should increase as the years go by – but it is important to ensure you receive the state pension you are entitled to.
Obviously, it is not enough to hope that the DWP will get things right. You may need an expert to help you ensure you have the income you need from all your pension plans.
Getting some expert help
The first step towards getting the retirement you want should probably be getting some professional help.
At Continuum we can help you with every aspect of your pension planning – starting with a close look at what you should expect from the state. We can help you see exactly what you are entitled to, and whether you need to take any steps to maximise what you will receive.
Getting the money you deserve is essential – but the state pension is only one aspect to consider.
A full pension review
We can review your current pension arrangements to help you make the most of your retirement. Call to book an appointment today.
In most cases, the state pension will not be enough to fund a comfortable retirement, and we look at the other sources of income that you can expect. We can help you see what any employers pension will deliver and whether you should have an additional personal pension.
A personal pension may be one of the best investments you could consider. Thanks to tax relief every pound in your pension fund costs you much less than a pound to put in. It’s never too early to start but finding the provider and the plan that is right for you will be much easier with help from a Continuum Advisor.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable retirement strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested.