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Victory for bereaved family of woman wrongly denied state pension

Victory for next of kin of wife wrongly denied two years of state pension as DWP late payout to husband rises to £12,500

  • Government backs on plan to cut its payout to £1,300
  • Elaine Burnett died the day after the DWP called to admit the state pension mistake
  • It was too late to hear she had thousands of debt or to handle the paperwork
  • Daughter Julie and her stepfather were amazed and grateful for the U-turn
  • ‘Right was done in mama’s name’ – and money will pay for funeral and a headstone







State pension blunder: Elaine Burnett died before hearing the government would rectify the mistake

State pension blunder: Elaine Burnett died before hearing the government would rectify the mistake

The grieving husband of a woman who died before a state pension blunder could be corrected is to receive £12,500 after the government gave in to a scheme to cut her arrears.

Elaine Burnett’s grieving family had rejected the earlier decision to pay her widower a heavily reduced lump sum.

Elaine died at age 68 the day after the Department of Work and Pensions called to admit it had wrongly denied her a state pension for the past two years.

She was already in the hospital and it was too late for her to be told she owed thousands of pounds or to handle the paperwork.

Had she lived, Elaine would have been put in arrears of £5,200 and a slightly increased state pension – as a result of the delay – of around £110 a week.

But after her death, her husband Paul was told by the DWP that it would now only award a three-month arrears of around £1,300.

Elaine’s daughter Julie Ritchie said she and her stepfather were surprised when a staff member called back to apologize for the retirement mistake and say he would now receive the much higher amount.

“You have no idea what this means to both of us,” she told This is Money. “First, that justice was done in Mom’s name and second, it more than covers the funeral costs and allows us to get a beautiful headstone for Mom. I’m not sure what changed their minds.”

She said her family planned to get together and collect savings to pay her mother’s funeral bill and for a headstone before receiving the news from the DWP.

Julie continued: ‘If you make a mistake and correct it, you should be congratulated. It took the stress away. It has helped our family.”

She thanked This is Money and added: “Mommy would have jumped for joy to get her pension.”

This is Money had appealed to DWP officials to ensure that her family would receive a fair and prompt payout immediately after her death.

Elaine, a retired shop assistant living in Scotland, faced failures from both HMRC and the DWP.

The tax authorities omitted “protection of home responsibilities” for raising children from its national insurance schemes, after which the DWP staff brushed her off instead of investigating when she called about her state pension in 2020.

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The DWP recently said HRP inaccuracies were the second biggest reason for underpayment of state pensions. This follows a string of other mistakes, including a £1.5bn underpayment scandal uncovered by former Pensions Minister Steve Webb and This is Money.

Webb had called on Elaine’s family to get every cent of her missing payments over the past two years “without question.”

When he learned that the DWP had changed its stance, Webb said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear that DWP has relented and now Mrs Burnett’s family has paid the full amount she should have received in the first place, but for a error on her NI record.

“As more of these mistakes come to light, it’s vital that DWP make it their policy to pay out the missing money in full, and that they track down other women who have been falsely told they were not entitled to anything.” .’

Julie previously told us that Elaine had wanted to warn other women about mistakes in the state pensions, and if it helped another person, it would be worth publishing what happened to her.

She and her mother had contacted This is Money themselves after seeing our recent story in which Webb sounded the alarm about women turning 66 and wrongly receiving ‘zero’ state pension.

This is Money understands that after the DWP received Ms. Burnett’s paperwork after her death, it considered the additional information in her case and passed the award to her husband.

A government spokesperson said earlier: ‘This year we will spend more than £110 billion on the state pension and support more than 12.5 million pensioners.

“Our priority is to make sure everyone gets the financial support they deserve and if mistakes do occur, we do everything we can to fix them.”

>>>Read more about the stamp of the married woman, protection of home responsibilities, and what to do if you think you have wrongly received no or too little AOW.