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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Women and Pensions (UK)

Because women often need to take breaks from our careers, to have children or because of caring responsibilities, it's quite common for us to lose out on a state pension due to lack of National Insurance contributions.

So, as a service to the women of Britain aged over 60, I'm sharing this article from the fab Money Saving Expert site.

Are you a woman over 60 who doesn't get a state pension?
Are you a woman over 60 who doesn’t get a state pension? Get £1000s back
What's this about?

A parliamentary question by a Lib Dem MP has shown that many women in their 60s are unnecessarily missing out on the state pension. To get a pension you need to have paid national insurance for 10 years of your working life; around 750,000 women are believed to be very near, but just under, this threshold.

By offering to pay a few £100, if you're near the threshold you can start to get the basic pension of £87 a week, and get a backdated payout from your 60th birthday, which is likely to be £1000s.

The reason I write 'offering' is actually you won't need to pay them money - it can just be taken from your payout. E.g you need to pay £340 of National Insurance to get your entitlement; and then you're owed £2000 back pay. The £340 then just comes out of the back pay.

Who's affected?

Women most likely to be affected are those that have paid some national insurance contributions but may have taken a break to have children, and not quite met the 10 year contribution quota to get a pension. But if you're a woman over 60 and aren't withdrawing a state pension, check now.

How to check

The quickest way to check is to call the National Insurance Deficiency Helpline on 0845 915 5996.

Explain your situation and ask how far off the required national insurance contributions you are to get a pension. You won't actually need to part with any money; the top-up contributions will simply be deducted from the backdated pension you are owed.

What you need to find out is

A. How much more national insurance must I pay to get a pension?
B. How much will the pension be each week?
C. How much will I get backdated?

Assuming the benefit of B and C outweigh A.... go for it!

Will I lose benefits elsewhere if I draw a pension?

Drawing a pension may affect other means-tested benefits, but this differs case by case. The best thing to do is follow the steps above to check whether you may be eligible and if it's worth it.

Also if you are married, have a husband more than 5 years older than you and are drawing a pension on his contributions you're unlikely to benefit.

More information

This was first reported on BBC Radio 4 by the Moneybox team... if you're looking at this it's well worth reading the article and listening to the audio.

Read the BBC article: Pension Boost For Older Women
Listen to Radio 4: MoneyBox Item on this pension boost