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 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 (www.gov.uk/ 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. ■