Pensioners quit “fighting for life” due to severe delays in state pension payments
The Department of Labor and Pensions has admitted that the pandemic and staffing issues have resulted in arrears among retirees reaching the age of 66
New retirees have said they are struggling to live without money after it was revealed that thousands are facing months of delays in their first state pension payments.
The Department of Labor and Pensions (DWP) admitted last week that the pandemic and staffing problems had resulted in arrears in payments to people over the age of 66.
Now, a lot of people say they don’t know when they’ll end up getting paid – and the DWP can’t give an estimated date.
The new applicant, Ms. Stephenson, applied for her state pension on April 8th this year.
A month later, she received confirmation of her application from DWP. Four months later and almost two months after her 66th birthday, she is still waiting for her first payment.
“I called DWP two weeks ago and was told they were emailing them urgently to take care of it, but I haven’t heard anything,” she told The Mirror.
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“I was on hold for 42 minutes before my call was finally answered.
“How do you think people live?” She added.
Mirror reader Val Chapman is also in the dark when she will get her first pension.
“I have contacted DWP six times in the past seven weeks and have been put on hold for 40 minutes each time.
“Each time I got comments like, ‘If you don’t hear anything by next week, ring the doorbell again’ and ‘You need to give the Pensions Department time to process the application,'” she said.
“How much time do you need since you have all my information since April?”
Val wrote her concerns to her local MP Imran Khan and State Secretary for Labor and Pensions, Therese Coffey, but received no replies.
“I have had NI grants for over 40 years and find it a farce to have to fight for a claim in this situation for which I and many others have paid substantial contributions.
“The current retirees are no surprise to DWP and it appears that no planning has been done to prevent this disaster.”
Chris Small applied for his state pension on January 25th of this year – five days before his 66th birthday.
His first payment didn’t come until July 8th – six months later.
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“I think I was lucky even then that while I was on the phone I happened to speak to an employee who actually took care of new applications and manned the phone due to bottlenecks.
“She said she could sort out what she was doing to give her credit when I received the money four days after our phone call.”
However, after finally getting his first payment, Chris found there was a £ 42 a week shortfall that he now has to contend with the DWP.
The problem also seems to affect those who have chosen to postpone their retirement.
Nick Cutmore from Kent applied for his state pension in June.
“I haven’t received a message from DWP since I applied,” the 68-year-old told us.
“I’ve been working for 53 years and luckily I still have a job. I sympathize with those who have nothing and wait.”
The government insists the total number of those affected is in the “low thousands” and Pension Minister Guy Opperman said the problem should be resolved by October.
The department said “hundreds” of staff were engaged on the case to deal with the backlog.
Steve Webb, pension advisor at Lane Clark & Peacock, said the fact that hundreds of workers were engaged on the matter suggests that the total number of people affected is far higher than the DWP claims.
He said the DWP needs to be transparent about the total number of people affected and the length of the delay.
Webb said, “It is clear that thousands of people will have to wait for their first state pension to be paid.
“Even when the system is working properly, most people have to wait four weeks for their first payment, so these further delays could put real pressure on family finances.
“Of particular concern are cases in which working-age benefits are switched off as soon as the applicant reaches retirement age, but the state pension does not start for months.
“The DWP should be much more open about how many people are affected, how long they wait and how the problem arose.”
Charities have also warned that if the problem persists, it could have a huge impact on poorer applicants.
“For people who have a relatively high proportion of their income on state pensions, this could be a minor disaster,” said David Sinclair, Director of the International Longevity Center UK.
“The potential for anxiety and stress is huge.”
A DWP spokesman said the government regretted it.
“We are sorry that some new customers of the statutory pension insurance have delayed payments.
“All those affected have been identified and we have invested additional resources to address them as a matter of priority. All claims made today should not be delayed.”
Those affected receive their money retrospectively in a lump sum, said the DWP.
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