Retirement is supposed to be a time of reward and relaxation. However, DWP pension errors are delaying that for an estimated 134,000 people right now. Backlogs and historical errors are seeing huge numbers of State Pensions underpaid – or not paid at all.

Who should check their pension?

If you’ve got a relative or family friend who’s recently hit the age to claim the UK State Pension, there’s a chance their first payment’s been delayed. Backlogs at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are seeing thousands of people left without the pension cash they’ve spend their lives earning.

As for why it’s happening, the DWP say that the pandemic’s to blame. For instance, there’s been a pretty big leap in the number of people claiming universal Credit since COVID-19 first hit the UK. That additional workload has put stress on the DWP systems that, honestly, they weren’t prepared for.

On top of that, errors have been discovered, some very long-standing, that are making things even worse. The DWP says that an incredible 134,000 people have had their State Pension underpaid, losing a total of around a billion pounds overall.

Most of the people affected by pension underpayments are women, and much of the trouble comes down to the complexity of the pension system. Errors have left retirees losing close to £9,000 each on average, with the DWP now working through the caseload to settle up. Many of the systems used to calculate pensions are pretty outdated by modern standards. They need a lot of physical oversight, and are extremely complicated to understand in places, leading to a constant danger of “human error”.

People who are commonly missing out

There are 2 basic problems at the DWP at the moment: delayed pension payments and potentially long-term underpayments. For people who’ve only recently hit the State Pension age, the trouble is that they haven’t started receiving their payments yet. According to a DWP spokesman, everyone who’s been affected by this has already been identified, meaning their money’s on its way by the end of the month.

For people whose State Pension has been underpaid, potentially for a very long time, the situation’s a little more complicated. There’s an online tool from Lane, Clarke and Peacock (the consultants who first spotted the problem) that can help work out if you’re owed money. The DWP is prioritising cases they classify at “at risk” to help ensure that the most vulnerable get what they’re owed quickly.

The bottom line is that anyone who thinks they might have been getting short-changed on their State Pension payments should take a close look at their bank and pension statements. The DWP is trying to fix the problem at their end, but certain groups (mainly women who divorced after reaching pension age or whose husbands turned 65 before the 17th of March 2008) will need to apply to get their cases looked at.