A couple of pensioners who paid thousands of pounds to fill a gap in their national insurance records to receive a near-full national pension were devastated to learn that Britain’s national pension had been frozen.
David Curry and Elizabeth Curry, both 69, said they felt “forgotten” by the British government. The couple are among an estimated 500,000 pensioners who do not receive an annual increase in the national pension because of the country in which they live.
Elizabeth has been receiving £143 a week since claiming the National Pension in May 2020 at the age of 66, despite being eligible for National Insurance for 33 years. David, who has 32 eligible years, is receiving £140 a week so he can claim his pension in May 2020. As of March 2019, she is 65 and a half years old. Elizabeth estimates that she is missing about £1,500 a year and David is missing £2,000 a year.
The couple and their two children, who moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1988 when they were in their mid-30s, claim they were not informed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that their national pension would be frozen.
David Curry and Elizabeth Curry will not receive an annual National Pension increase
David and Elizabeth Curry
Curry told GB News: It’s as if we were second-class citizens. ”
The couple and their two children moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1988 when they were in their mid-thirties.
Curry said: “When we left the UK there was no indication from the government to say ‘By the way, you’re going to move to a country where your pensions are frozen’.”
The couple said they only realized their state pension would be frozen when they contacted the Canada-Britain Pensioners Union after paying thousands of pounds to increase their state pension when they were in their 40s.
They were in their mid-40s and after about a decade of immigration, they started thinking about retirement income and asked the UK government to assess their National Pension.
They were told how many years of entitlement they had earned while working in the UK, and how much state pension they were therefore entitled to.
At that point, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) told them that they could voluntarily pay national insurance premiums for the years they were in arrears, and then receive the full amount of their national pension.
Curry will be eligible for 15 years and will only receive a portion of the full amount when he reaches National Pension age.
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The couple decided to fill the void in their National Insurance records by making voluntary contributions.
“When we started paying back pensions, it took 45 years to get a full pension,” Curry said.
Due to marital circumstances, the required number of qualification years was changed from 30 years to 35 years now.
Between 1995 and about 2005, the couple paid thousands of pounds to cover years of nonpayment of national insurance, with costs reaching £600 to £800 per person per year.
The couple, who have voluntarily paid national insurance premiums for nearly 20 years, calculated that they would have to live to 73 to break even, after which they would be able to benefit from the unpaid balance.
It was around this time that the couple learned about the British Pensioners’ Union of Canada, through which they contacted accountants in England, and realized that their national pension was not increased annually like in the UK and other entitlement schemes. Countries.
The couple are due to visit the UK later this year, but when they informed the DWP that they would be visiting a country where the national pension has been raised, they were told that the national pension would be increased to the current amount for that period.
However, when the couple returns to Canada after the trip, the amount will revert to the flat amount they had when they started claiming the National Pension.
Curry said, “I don’t know how labor-intensive it is for people working at DWP, but it’s ridiculous.”
Living abroad, they are having trouble getting in touch with MPs to raise the issue.
Curry said: “While we recognize that there are major issues the government is grappling with, this is a 70-year-old mistake.
David Curry and Elizabeth Curry immigrated to Canada in 1988
Mrs Curry said: “It would be different if no one living outside the UK got infected.
“They take your money. We pay almost every year, so shouldn’t we get an increase as well?”
The National Pension is only increased if you live outside the UK and reside in certain countries. These are countries with social security agreements with the European Economic Area (EEA), Gibraltar, Switzerland and the UK (but Canada and New Zealand do not receive the increase).
“Canada does not have a reciprocal agreement with the UK,” Curry said. We were able to get our pensions increased by bringing this up, but the British government refused.”
The couple live just 16 miles from the United States, where the National Pension is raised in full each year.
Curry said: “It’s very frustrating and terrible. The fact that some people understand it, but we don’t understand it, is very annoying.”
The couple have sent hundreds of emails to British MPs, but have trouble speaking to them because they don’t live in their constituencies.
A government spokesperson said: “Our priority is to ensure that all pensioners have the financial support they deserve.
“We understand that people move abroad for a variety of reasons, and we have provided clear information on how this may affect their economies.
“Government policy on raising the UK National Pension for overseas beneficiaries has been in place for over 70 years and continues to raise the National Pension abroad where it is legally mandated.”