PHSO publishes update on women’s state pension age investigation

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has published an update on the second stage of its investigation into the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) communicated changes to women’s state pension age.

Its initial report, published in July, found that, from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by the DWP in communicating the change.

The PHSO is now considering the DWP’s communication about the number of qualifying years of National Insurance contributions that are required for a full state pension, the DWP’s and Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) complaint handling, and whether any failings led to injustice.

It is going to begin considering what action it believes the DWP should take to remedy the apparent injustice, and will publish its findings about the issues it is considering at stage two and remedy at the same time.

Many complainants have told the Ombudsman they are seeking reinstatement of their state pension, for the state pension age to revert to 60, and/or compensation for the amount of state pension they would have received without the age change.

However, the PHSO highlighted that it cannot recommend that the DWP reimburses people for ‘lost’ pensions and it cannot recommend that anyone receives their state pension earlier than the law allows.

“When we find an injustice was suffered as result of maladministration, we make recommendations which might include compensation is paid,” the Ombudsman stated.

“To decide how much compensation to recommend we refer to our guidance about financial remedy (including our Severity of Injustice scale) and take account of relevant precedents.

“The Severity of Injustice scale contains six different levels of injustice that a complaint could fall into. Each level includes a range of amounts of compensation we would usually recommend in those circumstances. For example, compensation for a Level 3 injustice would fall within the range of £500-£950.”

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