“I have had to use a food bank”: Moneywise hears from women hit by changes to the state pension age

1 June 2020

The Government's decision to equalise the state pension age has left many women in their 60s struggling financially


In 1995, the Government announced plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 to bring it in line with men. As a result, many women in their early 60s are now facing financial hardship. For more on the issue, read our piece on the changes.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group has been campaigning for the government to compensate thousands of women born in the 1950s affected by the changes.

Below, we have published a selection of letters we have received on how these women have been affected.

Trish Breavington: “Women born in the 1950s have suffered discrimination because of this policy”

The Government needs to rethink the plight of women born in the 1950s.

When I left the UK in 2000 to move to Spain, I expected to receive my pension at 60. I have recently had a heart attack and recovered twice from breast cancer. The pension would be very helpful as my monthly medication bill in Spain is over €100.

Like so many women of my age group I did not pay national insurance contributions in the 1970s and 1980s. We were not encouraged to do so, and there was a pension allowance for married couples.

I believe in equality and that pension ages should be the same, but women born in the 1950s have suffered discrimination because of this policy through no fault of their own.

Susan Wallis: “It was a shock to find out I would have to work an extra five years”

I have worked all my life apart from the years spent raising my children, and it was a shock to find out I would have to work an extra five years.

Women born in the 1950s did not receive enough notice in advance of the changes to enable them to arrange a private pension. The retirement age should be equalised, but not this quickly.

I divorced my husband about 11 years ago and I am not entitled to any of his pension either, so I am now having to work part-time in my 60s.

Marie Rowland: “My children are having to pay my bills and my future looks bleak”

I was shocked and horrified when I was told that I will receive my state pension at the age of 66.

I spent 12 years caring for my husband before he died of cancer, and afterwards I could not even face going out to work.

I did get a job in a care home to make ends meet but I had to give it up because of a slipped disc.

My children are having to pay my bills and my future looks bleak.

I am struggling and I am not sure how I will be able to continue. It feels as if I have been robbed.

Margaret Johnston: “Hopefully one day the Government will show common sense”

At almost 63, and having worked hard all my life like thousands of other women, I now find myself struggling to make ends meet.

I live with my children as I cannot afford the running costs of a home on my own, and now that I am older do find it much harder to get through a working week.

I have had to claim working tax credits in the past just to make ends meet. It is all so soul destroying.

Hopefully one day the government will show common sense and compassion and make sure all these women born in the 1950s get what is rightfully theirs.

Wendy Mcgeown: “I didn't even know about it until last year when I turned 60”

I was two years short of a full pension at 60, which did not make much difference to my state pension but now I find I have an eight-year shortfall.

I have been trying to get work for six years, but I cannot afford to pay for a national insurance stamp out of my husband's wages. This age rise and the way it has been done is shameful. I did not even know about it until last year when I turned 60.

Elsie Johnson: "I feel betrayed because I am not getting my pension"

We left England in 1981 to move to Canada. On one of our trips back home about 30 or more years ago we went to the pension office in Newcastle enquiring about making payments towards my pension.

I was told not to top up my pension up because I would get 75% of my husband's pension.

We did this, but then the rules were changed so that women do not get a percentage of their husband's pension. Now here I am with nothing, except for the 10 years I worked and was a mother in England.

I will get a small pension but nowhere near the full amount. I feel betrayed because I am not getting my pension until I am 66 and cannot top my own up now because I have missed all those years.

Lynn Petryszyn: “I have had to use a food bank”

I grew up thinking I would be retiring at 60, but I never received a letter from Government saying the rules had changed.

Many women have committed suicide over the moving of the retirement date and I have had to use a food bank.

I have applied for jobs, but soon as firms see that I am a mature woman they do not even bother replying.

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