I’m a 65-year-old widow, retired for six years and living on my private pension and savings. I was caught out by the rapid rise in women’s state pension age. My husband died two years ago, aged 66.
He had paid towards his state pension all his working life and received it for just one year.
I have never had to rely on benefits, thankfully. However, I wonder if I could be entitled to any of my husband’s state pension, more so as he received so little back.
S. S., Southwick, West Sussex.
Cuts: When the new state pension was launched on April 6, 2016, widow’s benefits were slashed to minimal amounts
Tony Hazell replies: This is an excellent question which I am sure will interest many who read this column. The short answer is that some people can inherit state pension. Generally, the older you are, the more generous the arrangement.
This isn’t because the Government is being kind to the very old, but rather because widows’ benefits have been cut time and again.
In the most extreme cases, the widow of someone who dies in their late 80s could inherit more than £200 per week state pension, whereas one whose partner dies in their late 60s could receive nothing.
Let’s start with your case. When the new state pension was launched on April 6, 2016, widows’ benefits were slashed to minimal amounts.
The top rate of new pension was £155.65 per week at launch. However, additional pensions accumulated under the old system — such as graduated pension, Serps and State Second Pension — meant some people could receive more.
Anything above the new state pension is known as ‘protected pension’, and widows can inherit half of this excess.
So, if someone started with a pension of £165.65, their partner could inherit half of the £10 excess — a measly £5 a week.
The new state pension is now £179.60 per week, so someone hitting state pension age today would have to be entitled to more than this for there to be anything to inherit. I am afraid your husband did not have any protected payment, so there is nothing for you to inherit.
Different rules apply to those who were already drawing their pensions under the old regime on April 5, 2016.
For men born before April 6, 1951, and women born before April 6, 1953, their partner’s pension could be increased to as much as the full amount of the old state pension when they die.
This could give someone with no state pension a maximum of £137.60 per week, depending on their deceased partner’s National Insurance contribution record.
This will generally benefit women, as men from this era are more likely to have a full NI record. They can also benefit from their partner’s additional pensions — these may be a maximum additional of £181.31 per week.
Half of the Serps built up by men born on or before October 5, 1945, and women born on or before July 5, 1950, can be inherited.
This gradually increases with earlier birth dates, hitting 100 pc for men born before October 6, 1937, and women born before October 6, 1942.
It is also possible to inherit up to 50 per cent of graduated pension, which ran from 1961 to 1975.
Older women especially should be aware of these rules, as any inheritance could give a vital boost to a widow’s pension.
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about our article on how to claim cash if you hit a pothole:
My son damaged his car on a huge pothole, but his compensation claim to the council was rejected. He then took it to the small claims court. The council didn’t contest, so he won £1,200 by default.
H. R., Bristol.
The road outside my house was completely relaid around ten years ago and to this day it is still free of potholes. Other roads nearby have the same potholes which are patched up time and again.
B. F., Winchester.
Councils have waste collection vehicles which drive around every week, covering virtually every street under their control. Surely the drivers should be able to spot potholes and report them?
R. E., Bexleyheath.
Certain councils seem to prefer to spend money on bus lanes, pot plants and one-way systems. If more was spent on pothole repairs, less cash would need to be spent on extensive repairs to vehicles.
R. R., Manchester.
My council spent £3,000 in legal fees to defend a claim for £650. The judge said I hadn’t proved the pothole I hit was at least 5 in deep and that I should have measured it. It was an A-road, so I would have risked my life doing this.
A. A., by email.
In my experience, most councils reject claims as a matter of policy — and it works because a lot of claimants will give up. Persevere and you may find yourself successful.
C. S., Gloucester.
It’s not just a damage issue. Potholes are a serious safety hazard for cyclists and motorcycle riders. The state of minor roads is shocking.
D. E., Emsworth.
Where’s godson’s £2,500 investment?
My wife and I made an investment of £2,500 with Fidelity for our godson, who was born in 2001. His parents later separated, but we are still in contact with both.
They had to be the first and second named applicants, as we are not related. Now both deny any knowledge of the investment and I am struggling to get a response from Fidelity.
M. R., Hailsham.
Tony Hazell replies: Although your request was simple, it did throw up issues with the General Data Protection Regulation. You were not able to give Fidelity permission to speak to me because the account belongs to your godson.
However, Fidelity did speak with you directly to confirm that the account exists and arrange for your godson to be reunited with your generous gift.
You invested in Fidelity’s Managed International Fund, which is now called Global Focus. Every £1,000 invested at launch would now be worth almost £6,500 if the income was reinvested, according to Morningstar.
This shows the power of long-term investing.
HMRC trying to grab an extra £2,232 of tax
Last year, you very kindly sorted out an ongoing dispute I have had with HMRC since 2017.
It had muddled me with another employee at the doctors’ surgery where I work, attempting to take too much tax.
This problem recurred at the beginning of this year. This time, HMRC is trying to take £2,232 in additional tax.
I have written twice to HMRC without reply. I have also phoned without success.
A. H., Horsham.
Tony Hazell replies: I remember your case well. Your employee number was mixed up with that of a higher-paid colleague, something which HMRC told you could not happen.
HMRC has contacted you to apologise that the same error has occurred again, and paid you £100 compensation.
It has now decided you are actually due a tax refund, which will be sent once it is calculated.
Straight to the point
On September 28, I tried to move £50,000 into a bond with Allica Bank.
My bank, Barclays, called to check the payment was genuine. The next week I discovered £42,000 had been transferred to my friend instead.
J. S., Bedfordshire.
You had attempted to pay this friend £42,000 in April 2020 but the money had been held because Barclays could not speak to you to complete fraud checks.
When you approved the £50,000 transaction last month, the £42,000 payment was released. Barclays has now returned the money and offered you a goodwill gesture.
My energy deal with Avro was supposed to be fixed until March next year, but my most recent bill came from a company called Octopus Energy and it seems to be charging me more. How is this fair?
P. B., by email.
Unfortunately, Avro went bust in September and Octopus Energy has now taken over your account. You have been moved on to Octopus Energy’s standard variable tariff. This is why your bills are more expensive.
Cashback firm Complete Savings has taken £15 a month from my account for four years — a total of £720. I inadvertently signed up in early 2016 and the payments only stopped last year when my bank card expired. I am struggling to get my money back.
M. M., Campbeltown.
After investigating, Complete Savings saw that you had not used the service and has refunded you as a gesture of goodwill.
Mobile network Three has been charging me £35 a month for a Nokia phone I haven’t used in years. When I called Three, it cancelled the contract but refused to refund me for the previous payments.
The firm says it could not cancel your contract without your permission. It had tried to text your Nokia and a letter was posted to your address, but you never responded. You have now been refunded six months’ worth of bills as a goodwill gesture.
- Write to asktony@dailymail. co.uk or Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Please include your phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given
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