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?
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.