WASPI woman recalls moment she discovered state pension age change

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Women born in the 1950s have been affected by state pension age changes, as they saw their retirement age rise from 60 to 65, and subsequently 66. Some women, commonly referred to as WASPI women, argue they were not provided with ample notice about these changes, and have thus been negatively affected as a result.

One such woman was Andrea Lavender, a 67-year-old from West Yorkshire, who described her horror at finding out about the change.

She explained: “I found out at 57 via letter, which said my pensionable age was 65. 

“That was the first I’d heard of it. When I opened the letter, I thought it had been some massive mistake.

“The very same day I rang the DWP, and bear in mind, I was only three years off what I thought would be my retirement.

“I got the shock response it had been changed years ago. At the time, I thought it had just been me that had missed it.

“To be honest, we were devastated, my husband and I. He is six years older than me, and we’d planned to time our retirements, phasing out of work.

“I’d planned to continue with some work and get my pension at the same time so we could add to our pot for later on in life. 

“I was good at financial planning, you see, but you can’t plan for something you didn’t know was going to happen. It really rocked my boat.

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“Then, there was a further shock when we found out the pension age would be increased another year.”

Ms Lavender explained she had simultaneously had to deal with a number of life hurdles while navigating a state pension age change.

When her husband was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago, Ms Lavender explained she would’ve liked to “take my foot off the pedal” at work to look after him, but this was not possible.

She also cared for her ageing mother, who was battling illnesses, and while she was able to help, Ms Lavender resents she was not able to devote herself entirely to this task.

Ms Lavender continued: “There are normal things that happen in everyday life, and I know that, but there’s no real equality for women.

“When I started work, in my role we only got 95 percent of the salary that men did, even for an identical job, and we couldn’t join the work pension scheme.

“Many of us took a career break to care for our children. There’s even a gender pay gap now. There was no way women of my age group could save in the same way our male counterparts did.”

Ultimately, Ms Lavender states her circumstances are a “no-win” situation, as she and her husband continue to grapple with their financial security.

She added: “We’re not rich, but this has really decimated our retirement plans.

“We’re working harder and longer. Even my husband who is recovering is working three days a month. That’s just so we can have a decent standard of living. We could exist on the pension alone, but we wouldn’t have any luxuries.

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“We don’t ever buy a new car, but we wouldn’t even be able to swap our car if we didn’t work.”

Regardless of her challenges, Ms Lavender said she recognises she is more privileged than some other women.

She particularly expressed concern for those who are living alone and may find their finances more of a challenge. 

Ms Lavender concluded: “I really do think this is the biggest injustice there has been in my entire lifetime.

“Myself and my friends are still very infuriated this has happened to us. The older we get, the more worried we become we won’t see the end of this.”

A DWP spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.

“Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”

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