Divorced woman awarded £60,000 after wrongly assuming she was not entitled to state pension

A divorced woman has received a back payment of more than £60,000 after wrongly assuming she was not entitled to a pension, reports have revealed.

Under the old state pension system, the basic state pension – currently worth up to £137.60 per week – is based on an individual’s National Insurance (NI) record.

It means that someone who did not work for all or part of their life – such as a ‘stay-at-home’ parent – is not entitled to the full state pension.

However, the rules for divorcees are different. Former spouses can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to substitute the NI record of their ex-partner with theirs up to the date of the divorce – meaning they can receive the full payment each week.

Few people are aware of this policy, meaning divorcees are missing out on potentially thousands of pounds of income every year.

Yvonne Hooper, 77, was in this very predicament before working with advisors to make a claim. The pensioner – who was twice divorced by the time she reached state pension age in 2004 – was awarded the full basic state pension and back payments of more than £60,000.

“It had never occurred to me that I could get a pension on my ex-husband’s contributions and never that it could be so much,” said Ms Hooper.

“To all the women out there without a pension make a claim to see if you are owed a pension.”

Steve Webb, a pensions expert who has been campaigning on underpaid state pensions, is urging divorcees to check if they are entitled to a pension.

“I would urge any woman who was divorced when she reached pension age, or who has divorced since retiring, to make sure she has claimed her pension and notified DWP of her divorce.

“It is vital that they claim a pension if they have not done so and that they notify DWP if they divorce in retirement.”

Please note, your state pension will only be based on the old rules if you reached the state pension age before 06 April 2016.

Think you might be entitled to a pension after divorce? Speak to the Head of our Family and Relationship Team, Alison Green, on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at alison.green@mackrell.com

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell.Solicitors in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.