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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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!
Womens pension age increase
All the women around the world are the main care givers in this society, looking after children, grandchildren, partners elderly relatives.This means they are not always able to work as well. As when ypu are a carer for a family member you are only allowed to earn £100 a wk( this amount may have changed). However alot of women have also had full time jobs as well as being a carer, which I have done myself However we are not robots and not everyone is well enough as they get older to work full time.This increase in retirement age should have been phased in.I worked in benefits many years ago up to the 1990s the talk then was there would not be the money to pay all these pensions.I have worked with the elderly for many yrs some ppl live to their 90s which means they get a pebsion for 30 yrs! Tbe government are penalizing women who have worked gard raused famikies caresmd for elderly relatives, saving the state a fortune This is how we repay them , no enough of this give these women the money they paid in Other wise tell us where all that money is going be transparent.I feel it is being used to pay pensioners now as no one foresaw the large pension population.Give these women their pensions !
You've made a perfect point. As men live approximately four years less than women and men have less time to "enjoy" retirement women could work another four years for an increased pension payout.
We could give all retirees options to retire early and receive less or retire later and receive more.
Pension age equalisation.
None of us women are arguing against the equalisation of ages between men and women. What we are angry about is the way it was done, giving little or no notice to the women concerned. You also have to factor in that women have historically been the lower wage earners. Consequently, they have been the ones who have looked after the children, taken time off to look after aging relatives as well as the grandchildren to allow their own children to go back to work. Until relatively recently, women only paid half stamp, reducing their financial options even further. Workplace pension schemes were not always affordable for women, because of the disparity in wages paid for doing the same or similar jobs. I was born in 1960 meaning my retirement age has increased by 6 and a half years. I work in a highly demanding and physical job in a garden centre, regularly being expected to lift & shift 25kg bags of aggregates, etc. I love my job & want to do it until I DO retire but whether I'm physically able to, is another matter. My workplace pension wouldn't even pay for my weekly grocery shop, let alone heating & lighting! In addition to working I also take care of my disabled sister.