"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.

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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 PJH (not verified)

You sound like an embittered male.Secondly the notice given between the first deferment by the government and the second which resulted in women having to wait until they are 66 gave no time to plan, that is if the information ever arrived.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I also received no official notification of the change to the pension age. I also have to wait until I am 66 to receive my state pension after working continually since 1972. How are the younger generation be expected to find work if older people are having to work longer

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

Totally agree.What really makes me angry is the numbers game in all this nonsense.The big campaigns “speak on behalf of 3.5 million “ so they say. It’s complete nonsense of course as the vast majority of women just got on with it. I doubt there are 10000 active campaigners. And if those how many prefer to hide behind “ I was never officially told” or “ I never received a letter”? Most I think because that is very different from I didn’t know..

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I only had to work an extra 6 months so consider myself lucky. I worked for a well known bank pushing paper but was constantly told I was not productive-my colleagues were 30 years younger than me do were able to work quicker. It was a complete nightmare snd soul destroying job in the end! These millionaires who pulled the plug on us should be held accountable!

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

I take you are not one off the woman who has been ripped then , When you have a contract to pay into your pension ad said contract says it will be paid out at 60 then that should be the case , The Government had the responsibility to inform woman that they had welshed on that contract but they could not be bothered to do that so yes they are to blame , Then we had Cameron and Osborn multi million hairs moved the gold post again but hey they still get their gold plated pensions at our expense long before they are 65 ,To say I am Angry is underestimate I am furious and think we should be suing them for all the money they have stole from us .

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

You wouldn’t say that if you had been affected

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have worked since I was. 15. & despite failing health still have to work .It is criminal the jump from my promised pension at 60 to 66. Let us retire with dignity . Feel cheated & angry £40,000 this government have stolen from me .& so many others Compensation is deserved . Some of us won't see retirement age & having worked all our lives it is disgraceful . & inhumane. Please fight our cause Thankyou

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was born in 1955 and was absolutely devastated when the retirement age was increased I was not ready,and last year I contracted sepsis and nearly died had I retired at 60 I would not have had this disease abd since then I have not felt right. I have accumulated 48 years of national insurance so I think I should have been entitled to retire at 60.Please someone in government listen to us for once we are only asking what is rightly ours

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I agree a contract was made with the government to receive pension at 60. I have 44 years Nl contributions. Historically men have larger pensions and women in the 50's had less opportunities. Working part time on some cases to care for children and ageing parents accumulating less wealth. Equality on age for men and women but not in all areas.

In reply to by PJH (not verified)

" You can only educate awareness" GattegnoHow can anyone know about something they have no awareness of. Many of these women were simply not informed of the imminent changes to the state pension age.Let's put it another way. Why do you ( commentor) not know about the future intentions of the government in their change strategies unless you have been informed about them?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My husband took early retirement at 54 and I took a sabbatical from work to enjoy a year with him. We had several friends under 60 who passed away during this time and decided that life was too short. We needed to enjoy some quality time together now that our children were married and had left home. I looked into when I would receive my pension and received a letter stating that I would receive it on my 60 th birthday. I then checked that I had 38 years NI and so would qualify for full state pension age. We decided to make plans for our future. We sold our house and I took a small job that covered our rental whilst we looked for somewhere new. We downsized to the Isle of Wight and freed up money that along with my husbands small private pension would allow us to do some work on the very tired house we had bought as well as keep us for the next 5 years. We worked extremely hard with many laughs and some tears to put together a home that we could live in. We are not big DIYers but to make this work we did a lot of the work ourselves. During this time we still managed to do one day a week on the mainland babysitting so that my daughter could work too. We both managed to get small seasonal jobs on the island to boost our income. But we had released the pressure and were enjoying our more relaxed and basic life. We have also been caring for our elderly parents who have all sadly passed away in the last 3 years. I am not sure when I realised that the information that I had been given regarding pensions changed but it has been very difficult. I have no income and my husbands small pension keeps us both. Fortunately we have no mortgage. I had To give up work 3 years ago with severe sciatica. I became so disabled that I could only do anything for 2 hours because the pain was so excruciating. I had a very successful op in July last year and am now lucky enough to be fully fit again. After many applications I have managed to find work for 3 months but at 63 it is difficult to find an employer that will take you on. I get very annoyed when “1950s” women are told that they should have planned for retirement. I did. I checked everything out. I didn’t make any decisions lightly. Most women my age started a Saturday job at 15 paying national insurance from that time. No youngster today pays NI until they are at least 16 with a great deal of them going to university and then having a gap year. I had 3 jobs when my children were little to make ends meet . I worked around my husband so that we didn’t have to pay childcare. We had no subsidy from the government for that. I don’t expect pensions for women to stay at 60 but to be phased in gradually rather than all at once like this. I will be 66 before I receive mine and I don’t think we have been given any reassurance that won’t change again.

In reply to by Paul (not verified)

Paul, I agreed with the first increase to 64 yrs 10mths in my case as there is not a bottomless pit of money. However, I was NOT informed by DWP of an increase to 66 years! As for Equality issues, I have worked full time since I was 17, along with looking after a Grandmother and bringing up a child, spending 6+ years on dialysis and eventually receiving a transplant.!!!How many men have cared for a sick relative and children and worked? Not many! Also women’s wages have always been lower than men’s so where was the equality then? Guess you’re not as old as I am Paul so haven’t seen INequality as we older ladies have.........

In reply to by Murray Snudge (not verified)

This has nothing to do with equal rights, that's just a bigoted response, please get the facts if you need to respond. Otherwise keep your opinions to yourself.

In reply to by Paul (not verified)

Equality?

Paul, not one of us is against equality but there is no equality in this situation. We were penalised from the start as our NI contributions were based on what we earned. When most of us started work we were paid less than our male counterparts, therefore our contributions were less. More importantly, we did not have 'warning' of this change and certainly no chance of making any adjustments to accommodate this decision. I only learned of the changes when a friend told me. I had no letter, I saw no adverts of dogs talking to each other on a beach! Worse, it has been revealed that in saving money, millions of pounds was spent on baffling newspaper and magazine advertisements. Many of us stopped work to have children, children our husbands wanted too. Some of us are now divorced, some widowed and now many of us have lost houses. remortgaged etc to survive etc. This is not about equality at all so surely you understand what an enormous impact this has had on so many people? Remember our pensions are not benefits, we had money taken from our salaries/wages for our retirement pensions, so it is our money. I have paid 45 years of full contributions but am still working at 65 and will be when I am 66 if not longer. I've had 3 children, worked, run a house, ironically had a bad car accident taking my husband to work, which was not my fault and rendered me incapacitated for a few years and surgery at one of London's top hospitals! I would love to welcome you to my world too but you would find it far too hard!

In reply to by peter wicking (not verified)

Men have an average shorter life span - then it is more important that women get their pension on the date promised. They would have you believe that 18 million letters were sent out, but this is not true. They say they ran a TV and magazine campaign, but this also is not true. There were some small adverts in women's magazines shoved into a corner somewhere in small print, but not many women can afford the luxury of buying these costly magazines. But by governments own admission the TV campaign did not take place.

SERPS ( men and women)

What happened to Serps payments. NI was increased to pay for it? My forecast showed a full pension at sixty and I have to wait to 66. I am now 62.

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