Universal credit claimants report mystery ‘glitch’ in state pension records

The Mystery of Missing State Pension Credits: Frustrated Universal Credit Applicants Trying to Increase Their Retirement Income Seek Answers

  • Margaret Whitaker, 66, struggled to get two years when she received her registered UC
  • She says she took dozens of calls over several months to the DWP and HMRC.
  • Graham Pickard discovered that a nine-month claim period was not added to his NI record
  • Both faced having to pay hundreds of extra pounds for state pension supplements.
  • It is unknown why the records of these UC claimants were not updated.
  • It is vital that HMRC and DWP find out what went wrong, says former minister Steve Webb







Margaret Whitaker: two years in which she claimed universal credit was missing from her record

Margaret Whitaker: Two years in which she claimed universal credit was missing from her record

A mysterious ‘glitch’ in state pension records has left two savers scrambling to patch potentially costly holes in their retirement income.

Lack of National Insurance credits can mean retirees face shortfalls in retirement unless they realize and fix them.

Margaret Whitaker, 66, pictured to the right, fought to have two years of credits added to cover a period when she claimed universal credit after her husband’s death.

She says it took dozens of calls over several months to the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC to correct her 2020 to 2022 National Insurance record.

The retired receptionist from Moray in Scotland sought help from former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, who explained what she needed to ask for and encouraged her to persist.

Ms Whitaker says her eventual success enabled her to buy a few weeks of state pension supplements for around £60, instead of paying around £1,650 for two full years.

But he says it was harrowing to have to explain his personal story over numerous calls, sometimes after waiting 20 minutes or half an hour to get through.

‘I had to repeat the same story every time. It was stressful because it was shortly after my husband died. At one point they told me that I was not entitled to any credit.’

People claiming the universal credit, such as those receiving child allowance or carer’s allowance, must have these periods added to their NI records.

They receive credits that will eventually increase their state pension if the qualifying years are not otherwise earned. If these are missing, it could result in a lower pension in retirement.

Webb and This is Money are conducting a separate investigation into the years in which child benefits were claimed that were not included in state pension records.

‘Nine months of claims were missing from my history’

Separately, retiree Graham Pickard found a nine-month period in which he claimed universal credit in 2020 did not appear on his record and made unsuccessful calls to the government to fix it.

He told us: ‘Almost two years into my record it still shows zero NI credits. No matter which department you talk to, there seems to be nothing anyone can do to rectify this.

Pickard, 65, a retired Manchester airport worker, was a year away from qualifying for a full state pension of £185.15 a week, or around £9,600 a year.

His NI record was updated after This is Money raised his case with the DWP and HMRC, and he will now be able to pay around £200 to fill a gap in the last year instead of over £800.

He told This is Money: “I’ve been in contact with HMRC and they told me they knew about it and it was a glitch and it affected a lot of people and a note was put in my records.”

Pickard adds that he raised the issue on Twitter, saying: “Many have responded that they are in the same situation, so it could be another pension scandal being kept under wraps.”

He says, ‘Thank you for your intervention without which I would still be waiting.’

This is Money has spoken to a third party who is trying to fix a gap in their NI record since they claimed universal credit, but who doesn’t want their story published.

It is unknown why the records of these universal credit claimants have not been updated and, as a result, their valuable National Insurance credits have disappeared.

We asked the DWP and HMRC if there has been a ‘glitch’ in the system and if so what is the cause, how many people are affected and when do they expect the records to be fixed.

We did not receive an answer to these questions at the time of publication, although after noting Mr. Pickard’s case we were given to understand that the Government believes there are no indications of a broader problem.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We have spoken to Mr Pickard and resolved his case, and we are reviewing Ms Whittaker’s case as a priority.”

Steve Webb, now a partner at LCP and a pension columnist for This is Money, says: ‘Anyone with universal credit should automatically get National Insurance credits to help protect their state pension entitlement.

‘Had Mr Pickard and Ms Whitaker not checked, it seems highly likely that these credits would never have been added to their account and their state pension may have been short as a result.

“It was incredibly difficult for both of them to find someone who knew how the system worked or how to fix these bugs.

‘As always, when you see things go wrong for one or two people, you wonder if this is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

“It is vital that HMRC and DWP join forces to get to the bottom of what went wrong here, and to ensure that large numbers of people with universal credit are not missing out too.”