Cash windfall could await local pensioners

Women and carers are among those most likely to benefit

Hundreds of women pensioners in East Dunbartonshire could be entitled to claim a big boost to their state pensions, Jo Swinson has said.

Jo is asking local pensioners who have retired within the last 10 years to contact her to check whether they are eligible for extra money through a little-publicised government scheme. The scheme allows pensioners to fill ‘gaps’ in their record of National Insurance contributions, sometimes at no cost to themselves.

Jo raised the issue in the House of Commons today, asking the Minister for Women:

“More than half a million women over the age of 60 are missing out on a state pension unnecessarily. Paying a few hundred pounds to fill the gaps in their national insurance contribution record could entitle them potentially to thousands of pounds in backdated pension payments.

“What has the Government done to make sure these women aware that they could claim this money, and what more will the Minister undertake to do to ensure these women do not continue to miss out?”

Women and carers can often have gaps in their NI record because of time spent out of the workplace, but other people may also be eligible for the scheme. Jo is asking pensioners who satisfy all of the following three categories to get in touch:

• they reached pension age in the last ten years; this means women in their sixties and men aged between 65 and 74;

• they are currently drawing a basic state pension of less than the maximum figure of £87.30 per week;

• for one or more years from 1996-97 to 2001-02 they were of working age and didn’t pay a year of NI contributions.

Commenting further on the issue, Jo said:

“Our pensions system can be fiendishly complicated, and all too often people do not get what they are entitled to. A few years ago the Government launched a scheme to help people fill gaps in their National Insurance record but it is so complex that very few people actually responded.

“For many people on modest state pensions or receiving nothing – especially many married women – there is a windfall waiting to be claimed. I would urge any resident who thinks they might be entitled to contact me, and I will be happy to offer advice.”

Jo Swinson can be contacted on 0141 762 2209, by e-mail at[email protected] or in writing at 4 Springfield House, Bishopbriggs G64 1QE.

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