Despite paying National Insurance for 40 years, my pension is £1,280 a year short! ASK TONY

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As a WASP (Women Against State Pension Inequality) woman whose state pension has been delayed by six years, I finally qualify for this month.

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Even though I have 40 eligible years of National Insurance contributions, I didn’t really expect a full pension of £179.60 per week because I was contracted out to state top-up schemes while working for local government and the NHS Is.

But I was surprised that the final amount was just £157.90 per week – less than the full pension of £1,128.40 per year. I asked for a breakdown – and the problems began. In the last few months, I have spoken to DWP, Future Pension Center and HMRC 14 times.


Brief change: despite making 40 years of NI contributions and waiting an additional six years, a reader is receiving £1,128.40 per year less than the full pension

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I know I can buy a few extra years through NI contribution. But I do not want to make such a payment which does not improve my pension.

RM, Scarborough, N. York.

Tony Hazel replies: In an effort to simplify state pensions in 2016, the government created a numerical nightmare for those caught up in the change.

The key fact is that you need 35 eligible years of full National Insurance contributions to get the full new state pension.

The key word is ‘complete’. Most people paid less so get less pension, resulting in no more confusion, frustration and a bit of anger.

Why over here Before April 2016, many people were excluded from state top-ups (known as SARPs, State Second Pension and Graduated Retirement Benefit) and employer pension for at least part of their careers.

He paid a lower rate of NI, which is now turning into a smaller state pension.

In November last year the average state pension paid to a 66-year-old woman was £160.87 a week, while men received £166.18.

The average per week women received in the late 70s was only £133.56, while men received £169.09.

Incidentally, if the triple lock had been maintained, the average pension for women in their late 70s would have risen to £144 per week – but men with six-figure salaries and large private pensions decided it would be too high. .

Of the 12.3 million pensioners, only 7.3 million receive at least £150 per week. Over 1.8 million receive less than £100 per week.

This makes it necessary to plug any gaps. But it is complicated, and some people have paid top-ups which did not affect their pension. The DWP then told him that it was his own fault.

Your own question was straightforward and someone should have been able to answer it without you rushing. But DWP has finally confirmed what you already suspected.

By making four voluntary contribution payments, this reader can increase their pension by up to £178.42 per week (picture rendered by model)

By making four voluntary contribution payments, this reader can increase their pension by up to £178.42 per week (picture rendered by model)

You retired on your NHS pension in 2015 at the age of 60, but it is only worth making voluntary contributions for the missed years from April 2016. Anyone before that would fall under the old system and vanish into a black hole.

Four of these years will buy you an additional £5.13 per week pension, but the fifth will buy you £1.18 per week because you will receive the maximum weekly pension.

The cost for the three years prior to 2016 is £800.80 while the cost for 2019/20 is £780. For a total of £3,182.40, you will receive an additional pension of £1067.04 per year, which is a good thing.

You’ve decided not to buy last year, but paying £795.60 a week will still cost you £1.18, a good deal. This equates to about 8 pc, which turns commercial annuity rates into a cocked hat.

As things stand, after making four payments your pension will be £178.42 per week.

Over the next 20 years you could get an additional pension of around £28,000 for your £3,182.40 investment, assuming future governments pledge to increase pensions by at least 2.5 percent per annum .

An important point to make: the employer pension should be at least equal to the state pension lost through contract – so no one should be offended by doing so.

Specsavers can’t see my point

I started having migraines in early 2018 and was also due to upgrade my glasses prescription.

I visited Specsavers that October, which mentioned migraines and bought two pairs of varifocal glasses for £374.

I took a pair home to see how I got on with them. I could not wear them for a long time, because they would start a migraine. Specsavers changed the lens three times. Then hit Kovid.

I did not return till July 2021 due to the lockdown, migraine and taking care of my frail father.

I was told that, after this much time had passed, I would have to pay another £200 to get new glasses.

NS, Bromley, Kent.

Tony Hazel replies: Migraines can have many causes, including diet, genetics and age – but, to my knowledge, glasses are not one of them.

Also, given the time that has passed, it is very likely that you will need a new prescription.

Some people struggle with varifocal lenses so I asked Specsavers to check that it did all it could reasonably.

A Specsavers spokesperson says: ‘We’ve seen an increase in people working from home and spending more time on screens, which is why some people are finding varifocals more challenging.

‘It can cause eye strain and headache, but it won’t cause a migraine.’

It sounds like your Specsavers branch is leaning backwards to help you. It will, however, offer you a pair of glasses designed for using a computer, as a one-time gesture of goodwill.

Cannot encash my late son’s premium bond

In 2019, my son died, aged 27, while living in Bangkok, Thailand.

When I applied for cash amount in their premium bond, I sent the original death certificate of my son to NS&I as requested. Then he asked for a letter from a notary in Thailand.

After several months of trying to get help from people in Thailand, I’ve been told the fee will be roughly the same…


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