Reader’s Question: Can I stop the Department for Work & Pensions cutting my state pension?

4 min Read Published: 06 Apr 2011

 Reader's Question:

On Wednesday 23 March, a DWP (Department for Work and Pension) person visited my wife following a letter saying that my wife's circumstances had changed and these needed to be discussed???

The lady announced that my wife's State pension was to be reduced by £40 a week but she could not explain why (as she was not a pension expert) but the overpayments made over the past ten years would not be recovered by DWP!!! She could not give any explanation for this, but made a note that a written explanation was required.

She then said that the overpayments applied to 100's and 1000's of pensioners with pensions in payment. She asked after our finances as she would see if we were entitled to any Benefits which might offset this pension reduction.

Is there anything that we can do to reduce, cancel this pension reduction?

Many thanks

David

My response:

David,

First of all I am assuming that you checked that this lady was legitimate i.e. from the DWP? Anyone knocking on your door and wanting details of your finances raises suspicions with me. But assuming that the lady was legitimate then there is not a lot you can do.

If someone is not entitled to a benefit which they have received in error then there is no legal right to it going forwards. On a positive note the DWP will not recover the overpayments so you are still technically ‘better off’ than you were ever entitled to be.

I would recommend that you to talk to the DWP again and get a full explanation as to why your wife’s pension has been reduced. One possible reason could be that she does not have a full national insurance record and a DWP error had mistakenly assumed that she had.

Either way, once you get an explanation then speak to the  Citizen’s Advice Bureau who will be able to help you with your case and advise you on any other benefits you may be entitled to, for free. Of course, do let me know what happens.

One final point, it is possible for your wife to boost her Basic State Pension if it turns out that the reduction is due to her incomplete National Insurance Contribution (NIC) record. She could do this by paying voluntary NICs. Whether it is cost effective to do so is another matter. But here is a handy Voluntary National Insurance Contribution Planner which can answer that question for you.

Good Luck

Damo

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  1. Yes Jenny, I too have had the same letter as you. I investigated the reasons “why” and was told the same as you. I am still up in arms about this and feel upset that there seems to be nothing we can do, I have written to my local M.P.but as yet had no reply. Why should we have to come down to a lesser standard of living because of someone’s mistake?

  2. I too was visited by a DWP person after receiving a letter to say she was coming. Before she arrived I checked with the DWP service who told me that, no, no, there was no danger of my pension being decreased, the visit was just `to see if I was getting the right pension.’ However, of course it WAS to tell me that owing to an error that had been made for TWELVE YEARS I would now have £120 a month less. But I would have a letter explaining why in more detail. A further call to the DWP received a rather testy response to the effect that the amount I would lose had not even been calculated yet, so they couldn’t tell me how much it would be, and I certianly wouldn’t get a letter for several weeks, but I wouldn’t lose any pension this month. Surprise, surprise, I have already received 2 weeks’ pension at the lower rate this month. Strange, for an error that hasn’t even been calculated yet…..
    A further call got a polite response and a bit more info as to amounts and reasons – the error was in deducting too little for my contracted out deductions. How they can have done that beats me when local authority pay information (I worked as a teacher) is so transparent.
    Of course, I still haven’t had the letter. So I still don’t know if their calculations are right or wrong. After 12 years I shall be hard put to find out anything, so I shall probably have to accept the mistake. This all comes after the 2008 debacle when my teacher’s pension was reduced also because of previous errors.
    Never assume that any pension service makes the right calculations!!

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