Married women who worked for decades denied full pension

Some get just pennies a week

sad elderly woman sitting in a room

Hundreds of thousands of women in their sixties and seventies are stuck on tiny pensions because they took advantage of a government scheme decades ago.

Through what was known as the 'married women's stamp', they were allowed to pay reduced rates of National Insurance while at work - 5.85%, rather than the standard rate of 12%.

However, taking advantage of the scheme meant that when these women retired, they wouldn't get their full pension, receiving 60% of their husbands' pensions instead. As a result, some are getting just pennies a week.

"Your state pension will be reduced and you won't be able to claim some benefits. You won't usually be entitled to benefits based on your National Insurance contributions," reads government advice.

"You won't usually get National Insurance credits unless you're a widow, you get child benefit for a child under 12 [or] you're looking after someone who's sick or disabled."

The Department of Work and Pensions insists that the women were told what the implications would be before they signed up.

However, many say this isn't the case, and that they had no idea they were giving up the chance of a full pension by taking part in the scheme. Seventy-one-year-old Lynda Moore, for example, tells the Daily Telegraph that she thought that the reduced rate was 'something to do with the NHS'.

She now gets a pension of just £30 a week.

The married women's stamp was abolished in 1977, when it was realised that many women were likely to miss out. However, those already paying it were allowed to continue - and many still are.

You can find out whether you paid the reduced rate and check your pension forecast quickly and easily, here. If you're still paying the reduced rate, you can opt out by filling in a CF9 form.

Whether or not you can make up extra payments to increase your pension depends on your age; if you are already retired, you can only do this if born between 6 April 1950 and 5 October 1952, in which case you can make extra contributions for up to six years after reaching state pension age.

How we spend our pensions

How we spend our pensions