Waspi woman lost £43,000 in State Pension age hike. ‘Living off savings for three years’

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Elizabeth is far from alone. Along with 3.8 million other women born in the 1950s, she has had to wait six years longer than expected for her State Pension. She will finally claim it this autumn but has endured a long and painful wait.

Elizabeth, 65, who lives in Wolverhampton with husband Peter, has suffered health problems all her life.

Her kidneys stopped growing at the age of two, and in 1988, a hospital consultant told her she only had six months to live. “I was only 32 at the time.”

She had a kidney transplant in 1990, but said the next decade “was just a blur”, as she had constant treatment.

That meaned she missed the Government’s decision to increase the State Pension age for women in line with men, from 60 to 65, then to today’s level of 66.

Elizabeth has always been desperate to work and in 2002 found a job on the checkout in a local supermarket.

She did that for 16 years but was forced to stop work in 2018, after suddenly losing control of all grip in her left hand and wrist. “I was in awful pain, I couldn’t hold a knife and fork to eat. I tried all sorts of tablets, but they didn’t do any good.”

Elizabeth was 63 at the time but had scraped together money from her meagre salary, and had to live on that and husband Peter’s pension.

“My last job paid just £240 a month, or £2,880 a year. I worked at that supermarket for 16 years, and they never rewarded me once for my loyalty.”

Peter said they have been punished for building savings as Elizabeth does not qualify for means-tested sickness benefits. “As we are over the savings limit so we don’t get any help at all. We’ve had to watch every penny.”

Elizabeth and Peter are staunch backers of the Waspi campaign, which stands for Women Against State Pension Injustice, attending rallies and helping others.

In July, it received a massive boost when the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman ruled that the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) should have given Waspi women more notice of moves to raise their State Pension age.

The ombudsman said they suffered “maladministration” and now Waspi women hope it will recommend the Government pays compensation.

Elizabeth would love to have retired at 60 as she originally expected. She said: “How can the government expect people to wait so long for State Pension when they simply can’t work on health grounds?”

Increasing the retirement age for women to 66 has cost her £43,000 in lost state pension, she calculates.

An estimated 20,000 Waspi women a year die without ever reaching State Pension age, getting nothing in return for years of National Insurance contributions. “It makes me so angry to think about it. At least I’m finally getting there but it’s been a total nightmare, frankly,” Elizabeth said.

The DWP responded that the Government decided to equalise the State Pension age for men and women more than 25 years ago, as a “long-overdue move towards gender equality”.

It insisted that it had been supported by both the High Court and Court of Appeal, which found it acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds.

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