New state pension underpayments found – could you get money back?

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State pension underpayments have previously been found by the DWP, some of them historic, and the process has been started to rectify the manner. Some £1.5billion is thought to have been underpaid to certain married women, widows and those over 80.

However, the DWP has now said there is a new category of error individuals should be aware of.

Since 1978/79, the state pension system has included measures designed to help protect the position of parents who may have gaps in their National Insurance record.

This is because of time spent out of paid work bringing up their children, and therefore will have mostly impacted mothers.

The system was originally called Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP), and now known as National Insurance credits.

The DWP states it is working with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to assess the problem, but results will not be known before autumn at the earliest. 

Helen James, 67, lives in South Wales and has held various jobs throughout her life, such as working in a school and a local shop – sharing her story with Lane, Clark, Peacock.

Mrs James and her husband have two children who the pair raised in the 1970s and 1980s, and she also now looks after her young grandson.

However, when she came to apply for her pension in July 2021, she was told she was not entitled to anything.

This is because it was explained to her she did not have the minimum required 10 years of contributions.

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Perturbed, Mrs James contacted Sir Steve Webb at LCP to see what she could do, and after this she was able to make a successful claim for 12 years of Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) from 1978/79 to 1989/90.

It meant she was now entitled to a pension of just over £79 per week, and she also received a lump sum of over £4,000 for the money she should have received since July 2021.

Mrs James said: “It is quite wrong that I was told I wasn’t entitled to any pension. If my daughter hadn’t read press coverage about the issue I might still be getting nothing.  

“I would encourage any mother who has been turned down for a pension to challenge the decision and get it checked.”

Regarding Mrs James’ case, HMRC said HRP has been awarded for the period April 6, 1978 to April 5, 1990.

HMRC has written to Mrs James to inform her of the matter, and the Revenue stated it is up to the DWP to calculate her pension.

The DWP has explained errors have occurred where periods of HRP were due but “not accurately recorded on someone’s National Insurance record”.

Its annual report for 2021/22 added: “State pension payments are calculated and administered by the Department, based on the National Insurance records supplied by HMRC, these errors may therefore have impacted an individual’s state pension award.

“Activity has been underway in HMRC to understand more about the scale, potential causes and options to correct these cases.

“Investigations are complex, involving the use of tailored data reports.”

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Historic periods of HRP not being recorded accurately on NI records are the second largest reason for state pension underpayment, according to the DWP.

Sir Steve Webb, partner at LCP, has launched a new campaign to help thousands of mothers secure the payments to which they are entitled.

He said: “The DWP has admitted that even more people are being underpaid state pension than previously thought, with a whole new category of errors coming to light.  

“Yet again, this error overwhelmingly affects women, and undoubtedly means that many thousands have been underpaid for years. 

“Rather than wait for the Government to fix the problem, I would encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check that the relevant credits are on their NI record.  

“If not, this can be fixed by filling in a form, and the result could well be a higher pension and a worthwhile lump sum.”

A Government spokesperson told “This year we will spend over £110billion on the state pension and support over 12.5 million pensioners.

“We are investigating an issue with the historical recording of Home Responsibilities Protection, with work under way to identify those affected.”

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