Newly-retired women urged to check their state pension for little-known boost worth thousands

9 October 2019

The new state pension system has a special concession for women who paid 'married woman’s stamp' any time in last 35 years

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Some retired women could be missing out on thousands of pounds a year because of a little-publicised concession under the new state pension system.

Newly-retired women who paid the ‘married woman’s stamp’ towards their pension early in their careers could still benefit from it now, according to a former pensions minister.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and former pensions minister, is urging women to check their state pension income to see if they benefit from this little-known feature designed to protect those who paid a reduced rate of National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

How much could you get?

The concession could be worth between £4,027 and £6,718 a year depending on your circumstances.

Before the introduction of the new state pension system in April 2016, women could claim a partial state pension based on the NI record of their husband. 

However, the new state pension system is based on an individual’s own NICs, not those of their husband, which could leave some women disadvantaged.

Recognising this problem, the government introduced a concession which allows women reaching state pension under the new rules and who paid the married woman’s stamp to make a claim based on their husband’s NI record. 

The rate payable would be a full basic state pension of £129.20 if they are now divorced or widowed or 60% of the basic state pension - £77.45 per week - if they are married.

The government estimates that around 10,000 women could potentially benefit from this concession.

Mr Webb says: “It is amazing that in designing a state pension system in the 21st Century, the government had to include special rules to protect women affected by a rule designed in the 1940s. 

"It is not widely known that women who paid the reduced stamp at any point in the 35 years before they re-tired, and who come under the new state pension system, can claim a minimum payment under the new system. 

“If any woman is getting a substantially reduced amount from the new state pension she should check if she paid the reduced stamp and contact the Pension Service if she is in any doubt.”

What is the married woman’s stamp?

Until 1977 married women who went to work could opt to pay a reduced rate of NICs - known as the ‘married woman’s stamp’.

These women would not build up a state pension in their own right but would be entitled to claim a partial state pension based on the NI record of their husband when he retired.

The number of women paying the reduced stamp peaked in the 1970s at around 4.4 million. 

From 1978 onwards, no new married women were allowed to opt to pay a reduced rate of contributions as the idea that a man was the main breadwinner had become outdated.

Those who were already paying the reduced rate were allowed to continue to do so and this entitlement has continued to this day and only lapses if a woman does not pay contributions for a period of two full years.

A Freedom of Information Request from Royal London shows that around 200 women are still paying reduced NICs.

What should you do to claim?

The full basic state pension for women is £129.20 if you are divorced or widowed or £77.45 per week if you are married.

Royal London is calling on women receiving less than these amounts to check if they paid the married woman’s stamp at any point in the 35 years up to retirement.

If they did, they should contact the Pension Service to see if they are entitled to a higher pension.

Comments

Married women stamp.

Would these females have to pay back the amount they saved by not paying the Full stamp!!!!??

Married Women Stamp

No women will need to pay back anything for being on Married Women Election (MWE). But they should check their record as, if they were receiving Child Benefit for children after 1979 the government didn't give them a credit on the contribution years whilst on the reduced Married Women Stamp. The introduction of a 'Child Benefit Credit' was introduced several years later and backdated. Women's records were trawled through by HMRC to see what years could be credited through that method. So often mistakes were made and even though women who may not be working and technically after 2 years their MWE would have been terminated it is worth checking their record as sometimes the 2 year termination date was missed and could have remained on their record for a few more years!! Meaning they could have had more contributions in their earlier years that were not credited to their contribution years due to them receiving Child Benefit, which applied a credit all the way until their youngest child reached the age of 16. (The maximum number of child benefit credits you could obtain would be 22 years, no matter how many children they had.

In reply to by Bryan Oram (not verified)

Married women’s stamp MWE

I was married 1971 divorced in 1998 paid MWE and had to pay nearly £4000 to get single persons pension , should I get that back now if women don’t have to pay it ?

MWE

When I was approaching age 60 and applied for State Pension, DWP sent me a statement of what I was entitled to; i.e. value of NI stamp over my working years. The overall total was affected by a shortfall in contributions when I was offered “married woman” low cost stamp introduced in mid/late 1960s. I was assured that paying the low stamp would not affect my final State Pension as shortfall would be made up from my husband’s contributions. The shortfall was made up with “pension credit”. The pension credit was offered by DWP and I did not claim as a separate benefit!
I have for the past 13 years been self-employed and recent tax return prompted DWP to stop ‘pension credit’ due to my earnings. I pay tax on my earnings/State pension. DWP now say ‘pension credit’ is classed as a benefit and subject to change with income. My argument is that it is part of my entitled State pension, but DWP have stopped my pension credit and informed my local council who will now cease housing benefit.
What can I do to get DWP to reassess their decision and reinstate my pension credit that I believe I am entitled to?

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