Women who divorce later in life – so-called silver splitters – may be missing out on significant state pension rights, a former pensions minister has claimed.
Sir Steve Webb, a partner at pensions consultants LCP (Lane Clark & Peacock), said in the late 1990s and early 2000s there were around 4,000 divorces involving women aged over 60 each year in England and Wales, and the annual numbers have since increased.
These women will have tended to come under the old state pension system, having reached state pension age before April 6 2016, which makes significant provision for divorced women.
If they divorce after reaching pension age, they need to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to potentially benefit from a pension uplift, he said.
Sir Steve, a former Liberal Democrat pensions minister, said many women may not be aware of this.
He said he had contacted the DWP to assess the number of divorced women making post-retirement claims for their pension to be reassessed, but it had said it does not keep records of people making applications for uplifts in state pension following divorce.
Sir Steve said: “Every year thousands of women over state pension age get divorced but many may not be aware that they can qualify for a state pension boost as a result.”
He added: “Any woman who reached pension age before April 6 2016 and has since got divorced should contact the DWP if she is not on a full basic state pension to see if she is entitled to an increase based on her ex-husband’s contributions.”
A DWP spokesman said: “It is important that individuals report to us any change of circumstances that may affect their state pension entitlement. As a reminder, we include information on this in the leaflet that accompanies the uprating notifications we send to pensioners every year. We would encourage anyone who thinks they have failed to claim a state pension increase they are eligible for to contact the Department.”
He added: “DWP have dedicated, trained teams for handling all contacts from customers asking us to check their pension entitlement.”