I was left with ZERO State Pension after huge government blunder – I was owed thousands | The Sun

I was left with ZERO State Pension after huge government blunder – I was owed thousands | The Sun

A RETIRED barmaid was shocked to be told she was owed ZERO State Pension, after a huge government blunder saw her miss out on thousands of pounds.

Stunned Estelle Henley from Hythe, Southampton, was wrongly informed she'd receive nothing whatsoever when she reached State Pension age in April.

The 66-year-old was gobsmacked by the bad news, but managed to battle it out for her cash with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who admitted the error.

Estelle, who was eventually paid, is now desperately urging other women her age to stand up for themselves or risk being left penniless in retirement.

She worked full-time in her daughter's pub for 15 years before she retired, although her husband Rob kept working part-time to support them, Mail Online reports.

The retiree said: "I knew that something was wrong when I was told I wasn’t entitled to a pension, but there may be other women who might not realise they have been given the wrong information.

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"I would encourage anyone who has been turned down for a pension to make sure that an error has not been made."

The blunder came from confusion around the so-called "married women's stamp".

Under the old state pension system, women could claim some of their state pension based on their husband's contribution.

Because Estelle paid the "married women's stamp" for at least one year during the 35 years before she was 66, she is entitled to £4,400 a year as she's still married.

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And women her age who are divorced or widowed should received £7,400 a year, if they paid the same reduced rate of National Insurance as well.

But errors meant some of these women were falsely told they had zero entitlement.

The government's mistake could catch out countless other women who have reached State Pension age since 2016 and are divorced or widowed.

In fact, three other women with the same problem as Estelle joined forces with her to overturn the DWP's decision, thanks to the support of former Pensions Minister Steve Webb.

Nearly 10,000 women are estimated to be eligible, but no one knows how many might have missed out on their money like Estelle nearly did.

Last year it was even revealed that retirees had been underpaid by more than £1billion in total, with each missing out on £8,900 on average.

Mr Webb said: “When the DWP admitted to me that they had been making errors for this group of women I assumed that they would have put in place procedures to sort out the problem. 

"Yet I continue to hear from women who have been wrongly told that they are not entitled to a pension. 

"What concerns me most is how many other women there may be who simply trusted what DWP have told them and are now struggling to get by without the pension which is rightfully theirs. 

"DWP should be checking all their records for such cases and putting things right, as well as making sure that these mistakes cannot happen again.”

A DWP spokesperson told the Daily Mail: "This year we will spend over £110billion on the state pension and our priority is ensuring every pensioner receives all the financial support to which they are entitled. 

"Where errors do occur, we are committed to identifying and rectifying them."

Mr Webb also wrote to the current Pensions Minister Guy Opperman to sound the alarm about the mistakes, so the spokesperson added: "We will respond to the letter in due course."

Women who paid the married woman’s stamp at any point in the 35 years up to retirement should check if they are getting the right amount.

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They should contact the Pension Service to see if they are entitled to a higher pension.

The Pension Service can be reached using the gov.uk website or by calling 0800 731 0469.

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