Victory for bereaved family of woman wrongly denied state pension for two years, as DWP belatedly hikes payout to her husband to £12,500
- Government backtracks on plan to slash her payout to £1,300
- Elaine Burnett died the day after the DWP rang up to admit state pension error
- It was too late to learn she was owed thousands or deal with the paperwork
- Daughter Julie and her stepfather were amazed and thankful for the U-turn
- ‘Right was done in mum’s name’ – and money will pay for funeral and a headstone
State pension blunder: Elaine Burnett died before learning the Government was going to put the error right
The bereaved husband of a woman who died before a state pension blunder could be corrected is to receive £12,500 after the Government relented on a plan to slash her backpayment.
The grieving family of Elaine Burnett had slammed the earlier decision to pay her widower a vastly reduced lump sum.
Elaine died aged 68 the day after the Department for Work and Pensions rang up to admit it had wrongly refused her a state pension for the past two years.
She was already in hospital and it was too late for her to learn she was owed thousands of pounds or deal with the paperwork.
Had she lived, Elaine would have been handed a £5,200 backpayment, and started receiving a slightly enhanced state pension – due to the delay – of around £110 a week.
But after her death her husband Paul was told by the DWP it would now only award a three-month backpayment of around £1,300.
Elaine’s daughter Julie Ritchie said she and her stepfather were amazed when a staff member rang back to offer an apology over the pension error, and say he would now receive the far higher sum.
‘You have no idea what this means to us both,’ she told This is Money. ‘Firstly that right was done in mum’s name and secondly it will cover more than the funeral costs and allow us to get a nice headstone for mum. Not sure what changed their minds.’
She said her family had been planning to get together and pool savings to pay her mum’s funeral bill and for a headstone before they received the news from the DWP.
Julie went on: ‘If you make a mistake and correct it you should be congratulated. It has taken the stress off. It has helped our family.’
She thanked This is Money, and added: ‘Mum would have been jumping for joy to get her pension.’
This is Money had appealed to DWP officials to ensure her family receive a fair and swift payout immediately after her death.
Elaine, a retired shop assistant who lived in Scotland, experienced failures at the hands of both HMRC and the DWP.
The taxman omitted ‘home responsibilities protection’ for bringing up children from her National Insurance records, then DWP staff brushed her off instead of investigating when she rang about her state pension in 2020.
The DWP recently said HRP inaccuracies were the second largest reason for state pension underpayments. This follows a string of other errors including a £1.5billion underpayment scandal discovered by former Pensions Minister Steve Webb and This is Money.
Webb had called for Elaine’s family to get every penny of her missing payments over the past two years ‘without further question’.
On hearing the DWP had changed its stance, Webb said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to hear that DWP have relented and now paid Mrs Burnett’s family the full amount which she should have received in the first place but for an error on her NI record.
‘As more of these errors come to light, it is vital that DWP make it their policy to pay the missing money in full, and that they track down other women who have been wrongly told they were not entitled to anything.’
Julie previously told us Elaine would have wanted to alert other women to state pension errors, and if it helped one other person it would be worth publicising what happened to her.
She and her mother had themselves contacted This is Money after seeing our recent story where Webb raised the alarm about women turning 66 and wrongly receiving ‘zero’ state pension.
This is Money understands that after the DWP received Mrs Burnett’s paperwork following her death, it considered the additional information in her case and updated the award to her husband.
A government spokesperson previously said: ‘This year we will spend over £110billion on the state pension and support over 12.5million pensioners.
‘Our priority is ensuring everyone receives the financial support to which they are entitled and, where errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them.’
>>>Read more about the married women’s stamp, home responsibilities protection, and what to do if you think you were wrongly denied or underpaid state pension.