"I have lost over £40,000 so far and had to sell my house": Moneywise hears from women affected by the state pension age change

8 March 2019
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On International Women’s Day, Moneywise publishes some of the letters we received from women affected by the state pension age changes

Moneywise recently published a feature article on the effect of state pension age changes for women. The response was extraordinary, with well over a hundred writing to us to express their dismay at the changes, the way the government has handled the process, and the way they have been treated.

Thank you to all those who wrote to us, from women affected, to their husbands and children.

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

Below, we’ve published a selection of those letters, to hear more from how these women have been affected.

Have you been affected by the state pension age changes for women? We'd like to hear your story. Please email editorial@moneywise.co.uk

Jan Neate – “The increase should have been phased in gradually”

I worked continually for over 45 years before stopping in 2017 to take early retirement due to stress and anxiety caused by my high-powered job.

I was never informed of the government’s proposals and now have to wait until I’m 66 to receive my pension. 

I have lost over £40,000 so far and at the moment I am living off savings after selling my house.

I feel cheated and betrayed. I grew up expecting to get my pension at 60 and the huge jump to 66 is simply too long to wait.

I never claimed anything and always worked - only taking a few months off when my son was born. The increase should have been phased in gradually and not handled in the uncaring way that it was.

Grace Cory – “I would like to know what has happened to all of my money”

I was born in 1954 and have paid 40 years of contributions. With little likelihood of getting another job after being made redundant in 2013 I decided to care for my mother.

I had a small private pension (£40 a month) and carer’s allowance to live on for the next three years, but then my mother passed away.

I have suffered from chronic migraines and fibromyalgia for 25 years but was unable to get ESA or any other benefit. My only option was to sell my house and buy a park home. 

I feel so let down by the government and I would like to know what has happened to all of my money they have taken since I was 17. It sounds like fraud to me.

Beverley Mitchell – “I was unaware of the increase until my sister told me”

I was unaware of the increase in the state pension until my sister told me she would be one of the last women to be able to retire at 60 as promised.

Unfortunately, I had to take early retirement of around £350 a month after having a spinal operation which left me with health issues. I have received no support from the benefit system except help towards my rent and council tax and I am living below the poverty line.

I feel myself and many more women have been dreadfully treated. I would not have minded the delay of 18 months as promised by the government, but a delay of six years is disgraceful.

Win £1,000! Have changes to state pension age affected your retirement plans? Share your views in Moneywise’s Great British Retirement Survey and you could be in with the chance of winning £1,000 or one of five £100 shopping vouchers.

Louise Swanston – “The government is desperate to save money”

The government is desperate to save money and is using women born in the 1950s to their own ends.

I’m 64 and I have to wait until I'm nearly 66 before I receive a penny from the state, even though all my Class 3 National Insurance contributions have been long-since paid.

I have always been in favour of equalising the state pension age and was willing to accept the first hike proposed in 1995. However, the further twist of the knife in 2011 was the last straw.

Women of my age have spent all their lives often working part-time because of family commitments and/or being paid considerably less than their male counterparts. Our generation has been woefully discriminated against by the state and should in my view be entitled to compensation in respect of the decision made in 2011.

Yvonne Crozier – “I was 57 when I first heard”

I was 57 when I first heard I wouldn't receive my state pension when I was 60. This was far too late to plan for my retirement and I had already made arrangements to look after my grandchildren.

My generation worked hard, brought up a family, looked after parents and there was no alternative to full-time work when I was younger.

I paid into the system for over 40 years and I have nothing to show for it in the way of a pension.

Sue Morris – “Shafted, short-changed, dismissed and overlooked”

I feel robbed and cheated out of more than just money. We have been treated with contempt and arrogance by those in power and who are all financially in a privileged situation.

Surely it must be recognised that women of this era were never in a position to save and build a pension, most being the homemaker and child carer.

Have 1950s women been shafted, short-changed, dismissed and overlooked? The answer is most definitely YES.

Sue Hird – “I do not recall receiving any information”

I can honestly say that I do not recall receiving any information from the government.

I am finding it increasingly hard financially with soaring food costs and utility price increases.

I have worked 40 years full time only having maternity leave for my daughter and a period of part-time for one year.

I have very little in the way of savings and they are disappearing fast on day-to day-living. I feel saddened and cheated by not receiving my pension at age 60 and feel that women born in the 50s should be in some way recompensed - even perhaps receiving a one-off lump sum payment.

I believe that the result for Waspi and Backto60 women will be found favourable by the High Court and that the government will be held responsible for maladministration.

Carol Archer – “Listen to the voices of so many hard-working women”

It’s disgusting how the government pulled the rug from beneath us. We were not notified. No letter, nothing in the media, it just happened.

I now have to continue working until the age of 66, which will give me less time to spend time with grandchildren. To have the goalposts moved at the last minute for women that have worked all our lives is barbaric. We are tired.

Hopefully this government will listen to the voices of so many hard-working women now in their 60s and pay us what is owed.

Lesley Edwards “I don't know how I am going to manage”

I will be 64 this summer and I work two 12-hour night shifts on Saturday and Sunday. I do this to make sure I can still look after my grandchildren after school and care for my mum who is 88. Although I work, it is not enough to pay all the bills and so I rely on universal credit which I feel awful about.

I have poor health and just don't know how I am going to manage another two years. I have been working since I was 15 years-old and I feel very let down.

Francesca Birch – “I have to find work or claim universal credit”

Like many other women of my age I received no notification letter to warn me I would have to wait another six years for my pension and now I face a bleak situation.

I have failing health, no other assets and have to continue to find work or claim universal credit. After a lifetime of work and supporting society at my own expense, this is what we 50s women now have to face.

I support WASPI and all similar campaign groups but this and previous governments have robbed me of my pension, my health and sanity.

Joan Davison – “We brought up families, cared for aging relatives and paid our taxes”

I was promised a state pension on reaching the age of 60 and my financial arrangements have always been based around this. Now aged 61 I continue to work two shifts a week as a nurse in a busy accident and emergency department with no prospects of a state pension until I reach 66.

Whilst I am fortunate enough to receive a small pension from the NHS this is based on part-time work and in no way covers the shortfall in income that I would be left with if I decided to retire now.

I have been left with no time to prepare for these changes and I feel cheated and robbed after having paid my dues to the state pension scheme all my working life.

Who will listen to we ladies who have brought up families, cared for aging relatives and paid our taxes? The answer I fear is no one.

Liz Pearcy “I should be enjoying retirement but feel I won't even live that long”

I always expected to get my state pension at 60.  I’m 63 I have another three years to work in a low paid job, five days a week plus two weekends a month to make ends meet.

I am single and have no other income. At present I am struggling with rotator cuff injuries of both shoulders, awaiting surgery and have already had joint replacement on both hands because of osteoarthritis - to enable me to continue to work.

Why can't the government allow older people to retire and get younger job seekers to take our jobs? I should be enjoying my retirement but feel I won't even live that long - which is obviously also part of the plan. We have been robbed of our pensions and our well-earned freedom - a shocking crime against a generation of women.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

why do so many women believe that they should be granted a five year bonus of pension, many women asked for equality, that works for & against now it has not worked in female retirees favour it must be wrong. Sorry that you feel equality only works when it favours you I as a male believe in equality across the board welcome to my world.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Funny how with Women,s day being this week ,and everyone wanting equal rights as men[who have an average shorter life span],why there is such a fuss being made. Every affected household was sent a government letter in 1995 [think it was 18million letters sent out]explaining the situation ,its amazing how many did not [or don,t remember]receiving this letter all those years ago.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The women complaining should understand that if they want equal rights with men (which I do agree with) then they have to accept the right to a pension at the same age as men.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

"In 1995, the government announced plans to increase women’s state pension age...."24 years ago. "I was 57 when I first heard I wouldn't receive my state pension when I was 60."Unbelievable. Why wait so late to find out?"It’s disgusting how the government pulled the rug from beneath us. "It wasn't. You didn't bother looking under the rug to begin with."I can honestly say that I do not recall receiving any information from the government."Did you look for any information?"I was promised a state pension on reaching the age of 60 and my financial arrangements have always been based around this." That changed 24 years ago."I always expected to get my state pension at 60."Until 24 years ago, maybe.Why don't people take an interest in things that affect them, instead of expecting to be hand-held through every little thing? Why do people "have to be proactively informed?" Why can't they go find out these things for themselves and stop blaming others for their own lack of action?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You all have failed to plan and therefore have planned to fail.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I just wonder why so many of you left your retirement to the government?I'm a millennial. I have £1.6million life insurance for my family till age 90. I have income protection should either myself or my wife fall ill. That's a solid foundation should disaster strike.I save 15% of what I earn and invest it in index funds. Should result in a retirement pot north of £1million.Sacrifices are made so that we can do the above. That and living below ones means - any one can do this, forgoing a holiday, not driving an expensive car or designer clothes.. Unfortunately life is such that there is no parachute. You all are older and from the pre-credit card era having less debt than many millennial. Have benefited from wage inflation, property inflation, high interest rates on savings. You've had the good years. I'm sorry but it's not the governments fault that were all living longer due to modern medicine. You all really should have planned your life out in your thirties (as I have done). You all have failed to plan and therefore have planned to fail. I don't feel why I should have to pay for the mistakes of others by paying higher tax.

In reply to by Mr Contrarian (not verified)

Difference

I am afraid that you have totally missed the point here. The fact is that many 1950's women were either expected to give up work after having children or to work in part-time,poorly paid jobs. There were no opportunities for these women to join pension schemes. Many worked from the age of 15 until they had children. The higher education system wasn't as it is now. Many married women had their grants assessed on their fathers wages. You just have no understanding of how discriminated against we were. Until th 1980's a wife had to get her husband's signature to get HP. There were no opportunities for women to build up finance. We have been discriminated against from all sides and it is a fundamental travesty.

In reply to by Mr Contrarian (not verified)

Rubbish

We also had record mortgage rates for most of our mortgage life

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We founded The Protest Against The Accelerated SPA increase group late in 2010 when we heard about the proposed acceleration of the 1995 age rise for women. Along with the Labour Party, Unions Together and Age UK we were part of achieving the grudging 6 months concession the government gave, so that no woman had more than 18 months added to her 1995 SPA date, but that was not enough! The 2011 timetable was badly worked out and unfair and because many women didn't know about the 1995 age rise, because they were not informed, it was as if up to 6 years had been added to their SPA all at once. . Just one example of the badly worked out unfair timetable, a woman born 6/4/1954 - 5/ 5/1954 always expected to receive her SP at 60, the 1995 SPA rise made it 64, then the 2011 made it 65 and 1/2. This is the gross unfairness, a woman born 6/4/1953-5/5/1953, exactly 1 year older, received her SP 6/7/2016. the woman ONE year younger has to wait until 6/11/2019. 3 years 4 months later than the woman just 1 year older.Many of our members with age related complaints have been found 'fit to work' because they can still breathe and they are being humiliated on job centre courses with little chance, at 60+ of finding a job.We have almost 3.000 members and hopefully more of them will share their stories with you. Many have age related complaints and anxiety/stress relating to how they have been treated, many are women alone, who wonder how they can struggle on much longer. They feel unworthy and cheated that the government can do this to them when they have worked hard from 15/16 years old, before equality of wages with men and before women had the opportunity or finances to save for a private pension. They paid in contributions all their working lives to support those on the SP at the time, only to find that at very little notice, when it was almost their turn to receive their SP, the rules changed. Women are not against equality of SPA with men, but are against the way it has been done targeting the same women twice and causing them financial and emotional devastation!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The TORY`S should be called the AL CAPONE party due to the fact that they are the biggest GANGSTER`S of woman`s rights,At least the other CHICAGO gangster`s did not DISCRIMINATE they took money from everyone rich or poor but this shower of LEECHES don`t care as long as they pick on the not so FORTUNATE and keep the rich boy`s and girls in bed with them.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am 62 just lost my husband need to carry on working because i cannot affird to retire the government not only robbed us of our pensions but widowes benefit two my husband died suddenly and is life insurance had run out x

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I could tell my own personal story of being a 1961 born woman who has been shocked to discover that 7 years have been added to my retirement age. This affects my company pension too which is linked to SPA. It affects my family too as my older husband can not afford to retire unless I have an income which means me working (if I can get a job at 60+) , not an ideal retirement as a couple. We have been messed about at the end of our working lives. 51 years of paying tax and NI means nothing. We don't even qualify for the full pension because of contracting out.The principle of changing ages so drastically is at the root of this. It is a huge increase targeting one specific section of society more than any other...women born in the 1950s and 1960s. It doesn't hurt richer folks, only poorer ones. Labour voters perhaps? Is that why George Osborne was able to gloat about how clever he was?In November 2018, Philip Alston, UN rapporteur on global poverty and human rights, embarked on a tour of the UK to talk to those worst hit by austerity measures and ascertain whether government policies breach international human rights standards. His damning report, which will be presented to Geneva this summer, accused the UK Government of being “determinedly in a state of denial”, with poverty being “a political choice”.The thing is, the money is there. We are the 5th richest country in the world. But theses women's NI is being used to pay big private firms for ridiculous contracts via the National Debt. The Treasury should keep their fingers out of the NI pie for the sake of the NHS and the State Pension.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My wife is 62 and paid more than the maximum 30 years NI contributions before Alzheimer's cruely curtailed her working life a year ago. That she cannot draw her pension for another 4 years seems incredibly insensitive to me and I think it's time the Government looked into the injustices of increasing women's age for pensions and the hardships this is causing.

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

I did know, had read somewhere that my pension age would increase and I understood it to have gone up to 63 but after that it increased to 66 despite that increase being against the EU guidelines that a pension should not be tampered with once it was less than 10 years out which mine was. THAT is maladministration. Even the website and the people on the phone at the DWP didn't know the facts. Wish I could have taken a screenshot of the site.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I had given up my job to look after my Mum in 2010 and was really upset to find they had added a further 18 months onto my state pension date in 2011, I didn't find out until 2012 when I was 58 and still caring for Mum. When Mum died in 2013 I registered as unemployed but was refused benefits so lived off savings for nearly two years until I found a part time job. I have very poor health and my job is strenuous so I have reduced my hours twice since starting, the extra time has been a real struggle both health wise and financially.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have always maintained that the state pension should be a contractual right and not a benefit. It was set up wrongly back in 1948. All our contributions go into the tax take and none is set aside for a pension. We should all have had a pension account and, by doing that, we could keep track of the value and the performance of the underlying investments throught our lifetime. Also, the opportunity should have been there to make further voluntary contributions if we wanted to. Instead, the government of the day and every one since has decided to keep our contributions for current account expenditure and to pay a pension pittance, again from current account. With a contract at the beginning of contributions, we would have all known what the terms and conditions and relevant dates were throughout our lifetime. Now, we have a system that can be raided by government at any time and has no relationship with the money and credits we have put into it.

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

PJH - If you had taken the time to gather the full facts regarding this injustice, you would not have left your shameful smarmy comments. You have missed the point entirely!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As you now know it was all set to be brought in as gradual as possible. Until Cameron and co conned you all to vote them in and what happened when it all hit the fan they pulled out and are sitting it out with there millions, not giving a toss.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Most women in their 50’s were in work at 15years of age. After having children there was very little childcare provision to return to work. Many women cared for their family until children were old enough to leave at home. Consequently no financial independence and security was accumulated for retirement age. I think we all thought retirement was 60 years of age. I know many women some bereaved,divorced or in I’ll health that live from week to week and are thoroughly exhausted because they have no choice but to work. Seems like the age gone by for them. With no compassion and adherence to the rights of these women

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My wife was made redundant at the age of 58 with 30 years worth of NI contributions (which would have qualified for a full pension under the "old" rules), only to be told that she now needs 35 years of contributions for a full pension and she has to wait until age 66 before getting anything. She has subsequently nursed me through cancer and had a knee replacement herself, so we are weighing up whether we can afford to "buy" the five "missing" years of contributions

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