Sarah Pen­nells ex­plains the changes in state pen­sion age

Sarah Pen­nells ex­plains the changes in state pen­sion age and how they may af­fect you.

The People's Friend - - This Week - Visit Sarah’s web­site at www.savvy­

THE state pen­sion age for women reached 65 at the end of last year, and is con­tin­u­ing to rise.

Women born be­fore De­cem­ber 5, 1953, will have al­ready re­ceived their state pen­sion. But if, for ex­am­ple, you were born on Jan­uary 6, 1954, you will have to wait un­til May to be able to claim yours. And a woman born on March 6, 1954, would not be en­ti­tled to get her state pen­sion un­til Septem­ber.

The rise in the state pen­sion age for women has been hugely con­tro­ver­sial. It has been the topic that has gen­er­ated more e-mails and com­ments on my own web­site than any other.

It has also re­sulted in a num­ber of cam­paign groups, such as WASPI (Women Against State Pen­sion In­equal­ity), which is cam­paign­ing for a tran­si­tional or bridg­ing pay­ment, rather than the re­ver­sal of the state pen­sion age rise); Backto60 (which is cam­paign­ing for the state pen­sion age for women to be re­versed to 60); and We Paid In, You Pay Out.

So, what is the back­ground to the pen­sion­age rise, and what, if any­thing, can you do if yours is in­creas­ing?

It was in the 1990s that the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion was taken to in­crease the state pen­sion age for women from 60 to 65. This was due to be phased in over 10 years, from April 2010 to 2020. At the time, the talk was of equal­i­sa­tion, and many peo­ple thought this was a rea­son­able ap­proach.

How­ever, al­though there was some cov­er­age in the me­dia both in the 1990s and in the run-up to April 2010, along­side a bit of gov­ern­ment ad­ver­tis­ing in news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments took the de­ci­sion not to write to women in­di­vid­u­ally and tell them when they would be able to claim their state pen­sion.

When the coali­tion gov­ern­ment de­cided to bring for­ward the plan to raise the state pen­sion age to 66 (orig­i­nally due in 2026, now due by Oc­to­ber 2020), it was the first many women had heard about the fact they would not get their state pen­sion at 60.

The gov­ern­ment’s view is that, as we are liv­ing longer, it is only fair that the state pen­sion age rises and have given no sign that they plan to of­fer con­ces­sions. How­ever, the Backto60 cam­paign group has taken the le­gal route.its le­gal ad­vis­ers (led by Michael Mans­field QC) have se­cured per­mis­sion for a ju­di­cial re­view of the de­ci­sion to raise the state pen­sion age for women. Court pa­pers are due to be filed by the end of the month but, as I write this, a date for the full hear­ing has not been set.

So, if you are af­fected by the ris­ing state pen­sion age (it will go up to 67 for women born from April 6, 1960) what can you do?

The an­swer, sadly, is very lit­tle. Apart from unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, most state ben­e­fits that could help women on a low in­come (such as Pen­sion Credit) are linked to the state pen­sion age.

If you do not know when you will be able to claim your state pen­sion, it is vi­tal that you find this out. The quick­est way to do this is to go to the gov­ern­ment web­site ( state-pen­sion-age).

If you are still work­ing, do not make any long-term de­ci­sions (such as tak­ing early re­tire­ment or cut­ting down on your hours at work) un­less you know when you will be able to claim your state pen­sion.

If you want to get in­volved in cam­paign­ing against the state pen­sion age, con­tact your lo­cal MP or MSP. The cam­paign groups Backto60, WASPI and We Paid In, You Pay Out have web­sites and ac­tive on­line groups (mainly on Face­book), and WASPI also has lots of lo­cal groups if you would pre­fer to meet face to face. ■

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