Child benefits: Which? explains payment and eligibility
Hundreds and thousands of pensioners could claim on average £5,000 due to holes in their child benefit records, the Government confirmed in July.
Most of the people affected were stay-at-home mums who made a claim for Child Benefit between 1978 and 2000.
Due to a Governmental error, National Insurance credits for time spent at home looking after children or vulnerable people were not added to their National Insurance records.
With holes in their National Insurance record, state pension entitlement will have decreased if they don’t have the necessary number of qualifying years.
An estimated 210,000 women are missing out on up to £1.3billion in state pension.
HMRC is now launching a letter-writing campaign to contact mothers, who are owed an average of £5k
Most of the people affected were stay-at-home mum
HMRC is now launching a letter-writing campaign to contact mothers, who are owed an average of £5,000 each.
The campaign is set to run over the next 18 months.
However, former pensions minister Steve Webb has warned around 600,000 people affected may never receive a letter.
The Government admitted that it cannot identify everyone because crucial HMRC records have been destroyed.
An estimated 210,000 women are missing out on up to £1.3billion in state pension
It no longer holds relevant child benefit data that would enable it to determine whether parents have a gap in their records.
Mr Webb said: “It is truly shocking that so many people have been underpaid because of errors on their National Insurance record for time at home with children.
“It is even worse that tens of thousands of people, mostly mothers, died without ever receiving the correct state pension.
“It is vitally important that HMRC and DWP are open and transparent about this whole process and that every effort is made to track down all those who may be entitled.”
Since 1978, parents who took time out of work to care for their children should have had credits added to their records, in a system called Home Responsibilities Protection. But these years were not always recorded.
Mr Webb, who has campaigned on this issue for more than a decade, helped a mother who had been receiving a smaller state pension than she was entitled to for the past 14 years.
Rita Atkinson, 74, whose name has been changed, applied to HMRC and received almost £17,000 in back pay and saw her weekly state pension boosted by £30 a week.
She was previously on a state pension worth £134 a week and had missing National Insurance credits for several years between 1978 and 1988.
How do I check if I’ve been underpaid?
The main rules for qualifying for a year of HRP from 1978 are:
Child benefit recipient in own name (not that of a spouse or partner)
Children under 16 for the whole of the financial year in question
They weren’t paying the married woman’s ‘reduced stamp’
For those who reached pension age after April 5, 2010, any year of HRP/credits should be showing as a complete year on your NI record. If not, then they may not have missed out.
For those who reached pension age on or before April 5, 2010, HRP was recorded in a different way and they need to phone the NI helpline to check if there is HRP on their record.
Britons can also use the Government online checker tool on the website to see if they’re likely to be eligible to make a claim.
To claim missing HRP up until March 2010, people need to fill in the form CF411.
A Government spokesperson said: “We have identified and are correcting an issue related to the historical recording of Home Responsibilities Protection on the National Insurance records for people who first claimed Child Benefit before May 2000.
“Most people’s records will be unaffected, and we have launched a new online tool to help people check whether they need to claim. HMRC will also begin writing to those likely to be affected this Autumn.
“Our priority is ensuring everyone receives the financial support to which they are entitled, and State Pension underpayment rates due to Official Error remain low at 0.5 percent of expenditure. Where errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them as quickly as possible.”