Today marks the beginning of state pension equalisation, when both men and women have the same state pension age of 65 – a quarter of a century after the plans were first announced.
The state pension age for women has risen from 60 in 2010, to 65 over an eight-year period.
Although women turning 65 today will be able to collect their state pension, the equalisation process will actually take a month to complete. This is because those born between 7 November 1953 and 5 December 1953 will still be a few days shy of 65 years. By 6 December, the state pension age will be the same for both genders.
The increase in the state pension age has sparked outrage among many of the women affected, who believe the pace of change has been too quick and that they were given insufficient notice of the increases.
Here, we look at why the state pension is being equalised and what it will mean for your state pension entitlement.
State pension age increases: how we got here
Plans to make the state pension age the same for both men and women originated from the Budget in 1993 and was designed to bring the state pension age in line with life expectancy.
In his November Budget in 1993, Chancellor Kenneth Clarke announced that: ‘After careful consideration, the Government have decided that the state pension age should eventually be equalised at the age of 65.
He said that ‘women nowadays tend to spend more of their lives in paid employment. They also live longer than men. Pension schemes need to recognise this, and end the current discrimination between the sexes.’
Following this announcement, the Pensions Act of 1995 legislated that the state pension age would increase from 60 to 65 years for women from April 2010 to April 2020.
This was sped up under the coalition government of 2010. Under the Pension Act 2011, however, women’s state pension age increased from 63 in 2016 to 65 – in line with men’s state pension age – in November 2018, two years earlier than originally planned.
This has proved controversial. The working lives of women born in 1956, who expected to retire at the age of 60 in 2016, have been extended by the full six years when peers born a few years earlier won’t have faced a higher pension age.
Overall, women born in the 1950s have now seen their state pension age increase by six years over a 10 year period.
Women affected by the change say that they were not given adequate notice and time to rethink their retirement planning. A campaign group, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), has called on the government to compensate them for what they argue is lost state pension payments.
In February 2018, the government rejected this call for redress.
- Find out more: how do I qualify for state pension?
When will I reach state pension age?
The state pension age for both men and women is now 65 – but it is not the last of the changes. From December 2018, the state pension age will rise again until it reaches 66 in October 2020.
There is a six-year gap until the next suite of increases kick in. The state pension age rises to 67 from 2026. And after a review carried out by the government in 2017, it was decided that the state pension age would increase again to 68 from 2037.
The table below shows the government’s timeline for state pension age increases.
|Year||State Pension Age|
|2016 – 2018||65|
|2019 – 2020||66|
|2026 – 2028||67|
**This date has only been announced but not yet legislated for. It was originally timetabled for 2044-2046 and could be subject to change again.
Use our state pension age calculator to find out your state pension age.
The state pension gender pay gap
While the state pension age is in the process of being equalised, there is still inequality in the state pension entitlements of men and women.
Exclusive research by Which? revealed the £29,000 state pension gender pay gap, that affects women over a typical 20-year retirement.
Despite the equalisation period taking place, the amount paid out in state pension is likely to remain unequal for some time, according to analysis from Hargreaves Lansdown.
It’s primarily a consequence of continuing disparity between how much men and women are paid and a difference in working patterns.
- Find out more: can I top up my state pension?
What is the state pension?
The state pension is a weekly payment from the government that you can receive once you reach state pension age.
In order to qualify for the state pension, you need to make National Insurance contributions. You’ll need to have a minimum of 35 qualifying years to get the full amount of new state pension and at least 10 years’ worth of contributions to get anything at all.
Workers who reached state pension age before the new state pension was introduced only need 30 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions to get the full basic state pension.
- Find out more: what is the state pension?
How much state pension will I get?
The current 2018/19 state pension entitlements are as follows:
- The new single-tier state pension – £164.35 a week.
- The basic state pension – £125.95 a week.
From April 2019, the state pension will increase by 2.6%, effectively giving pensioners a pay rise.
The state pension is protected by a triple lock guarantee, which means it goes up in line with whichever of the following is highest: CPI inflation, average earnings or 2.5%. In September 2018, CPI Inflation was announced to be 2.4%, while average earnings was 2.6%.
If you receive the state pension, your payments will be boosted to the following:
- The new single-tier state pension will increase to £168.60 a week.
- The basic state pension will rise to £129.20 a week.
Our graph below shows the amount of state pension you receive per week.
Can I check my state pension?
Workers can use the government’s ‘Check your state pension’ available on GOV.UK or via the Personal Tax Account to get a state pension forecast.
Contacting the Future Pension Centre of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can also provide further clarification about your state pension breakdown.
It’s also possible for you to request that the DWP does a manual check on your state pension entitlement, although this can take a couple of months to complete.