In its investigative report, the NAO cited “repeated human errors” over a period of years, resulting from the complexity of the state’s pension system, as the reason for the underpayments. These errors mainly affected retirees who first applied for a state pension before April 2016, who do not have a complete national insurance record and should have received certain increases in their pension payments. Relevant retirees, financial experts and members of the press were the ones who alerted the DWP to the problem of underpayments.
The NAO investigation report said, “The errors have occurred because state pension rules are complex, computer systems are outdated and not automated, and claims administration requires a high degree of manual review and comprehension by social workers.
“This makes some level of error in processing state pension claims almost inevitable.
“Ministry social workers often failed to set (and act later) manual computer system prompts on retiree records to review payments at a later date, such as their spouse’s age reaching age. retirement or his 80th birthday.
“Social workers also often made mistakes when dealing with prompts because frontline staff found the instructions difficult to use and lacked training on complex cases. “
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The DWP estimates it will have to pay around £ 1,053million to those affected by the errors, which works out to an average of £ 8,900 per retiree.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, highlighted the gravity of the situation facing the DWP and retirees across the UK.
Mr Davies said: “The impact of the underpayment of the state pension on affected retirees is significant.
“It is essential that the Department of Work and Pensions correct past underpayments and implement changes to avoid similar problems in the future. “
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Responding to the NAO’s investigation, a DWP spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to ensuring that historical errors made by successive governments are corrected, and as this report acknowledges, we are devoting significant resources to do it.
“Anyone affected will be contacted by us to make sure they receive everything they are owed. “
In January 2021, the DWP confirmed that it had started reviewing the cases and would contact retirees if it found they were underpaid.
Currently, the ministry gives priority to retirees who belong to the “at risk” categories, such as widows or people over 80 years old.
This can be done easily over the phone by calling 0800 731 0469 to speak to a manager of the pensions department.
Alternatively, people can contact the service online by posting their request on the Pensions Service website.
However, it is up to the state pension applicant to prove that he has been underpaid in his state pension payments.
All retirees are encouraged to contact the DWP or the Pensions Department with any urgent questions regarding issues regarding their state pension.