State pension age changes meant woman forced to retire three years after classmates

WASPI women have been left ‘high and dry’ says David Linden

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“I could survive financially, but had to live much more frugally than anticipated,” she says during an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk. “For instance, no holidays even pre-pandemic.” Being born at this unfortunate moment, in terms of state pension age changes, has meant that Kate has been affected not only by the rise of women’s state pension age rises to 60 to harmonise with the men’s state pension age in but also the subsequent rise to 66.

These changes occurred in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

Kate says: “I was born at the end of November 1954, the month worst affected and do feel resentful that some of my school classmates have received their state pensions three years earlier than I did.”

Being born in the 1950s, she spent most of her life planning retirement in the expectation she would retire at 60, the SPA for women when the state pension was introduced in 1948.

She says she didn’t find out about the changes until “maybe a few months before”.

Kate explains her complaint “is not that pension ages were equalised, but that many women were never officially notified of the change, and so did not make alternative financial provision”.

The lack of sufficient communication meant that she and many others had to hastily reorganise finances in order to plug holes.

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WASPI protest

Around 3.8 million women have been affected by the SPA changes (Image: WASPI)

It was either that or re-entering the workforce at an age at which she feels employers are notoriously reluctant to take them on board, or face destitution.

It’s estimated that 3.8 million women have been affected by the state pension age changes.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) made an important intervention after the matter was brought before him.

The ombudsman’s report on the matter said that “failings” had been found in the way the DWP communicated changes to women.

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It said that the changes were communicated 28 months later than they were legally stipulated. Many women say they didn’t receive even these communications.

The women were contacted in April 2009 instead of December 2006.

The report states: “For women who were not aware of the changes, the opportunity that additional notice would have given them to adjust their retirement plans was lost.”

However, only Parliament has the power to provide compensation for women.

Campaign groups such as Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) have called for action and an online petition has even been started which has garnered 74,096 signatures at the time of writing.

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Recent weeks have seen MP’s call for justice for WASPI women.

Yesterday, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne spoke to Express.co.uk exclusively, saying: “The human toll of DWP failings has been nothing short of catastrophic.

“I’ve heard from constituents who were completely blindsided by the changes and faced extreme financial and psychological stress as a result,” he added.

Another Labour MP, Mary Kelly Foy, wrote to Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey demanding an apology to the women affected and compensation to right the wrong done to them.

Infographic

What is the state pension? (Image: Express)

There are 5,600 women affected in her constituency of City of Durham alone, the letter said.

“These women have endured years of mental anguish brought about by the now proven failings of your department.”

A DWP spokesperson has previously told Express.co.uk, that “both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court the claimants permission to appeal.

“In a move towards gender equality, it was decided more than 25 years ago to make the state pension age the same for men and women.”

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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