Former Pensions Minister Steve is This is Money’s Agony Uncle. Here’s where you can check out all his previous columns to see if any involve issues affecting you.
Unfortunately Steve can’t reply to everyone who writes in, but we hope the broad range of topics he covers helps everyone at some point, whether they get a personal answer or not. If you still need help, we explain how to contact him below.
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270) I’ve been unable to get a state pension credit for time I couldn’t work during pandemic – can I challenge this?
269) What should I do about the gaps in my state pension record that the official website says it is still ‘checking’?
268) How are annual state pension increases worked out because I’m baffled by all the separate figures?
267) My 95-year-old mum missed out on council tax benefits for 18 years – how can she get her money back?
266) If I enter a civil partnership with a close friend will this affect her state pension?
265) If I had to use my pension to pay £50,000-a-year care home fees, would it be taxed at the higher rate?
264) A six-year chunk of my NHS work record is missing – is the pension I built up in that time lost too?
263) Should I retire earlier from teaching to avoid unfavourable new rules hitting my pension?
262) Can I take 25% tax free cash from my £1m retirement savings, without touching my final salary pension?
261) How have I earned a £212-a-week state pension after paying National Insurance for only 31 years?
260) My husband died before he could draw his state pension – why haven’t I inherited any of it?
259) My employer Royal Mail is launching a ‘collective’ pension plan: Will this benefit me or should I opt out?
258) I’m nearly 54 and struggling – can I borrow some of my private pension to clear debts and then pay it back?
257) Why must I wait a further seven months after I turn 66 to receive a state pension?
256) I was left with nothing when I divorced my husband, so am I entitled to a share of his private pension?
255) I’m £3.51 over the limit to claim pension credit so lose hundreds of pounds’ worth of other benefits – how is this fair?
254) I’m 72 and don’t work, so will I have to pay the new National Insurance levy for social care?
253) Will my husband’s state pension stop now he is moving to a nursing home?
252) If I cash in my £38K private pension, how will it affect the NHS pension that I will be paying into for another three years?
251) Should I take a lump sum out of my council pension or opt for higher annual payments through retirement?
250) Should I save more into my workplace retirement pot or take out a personal pension?
249) I took time out from work to look after my child: How will this affect my state pension?
248) I’m disabled and previously worked and my wife receives carer’s allowance – should I still apply for state pension?
247) Should I leave my ‘with profits’ pensions where they are or move them into another combined pot?
246) Should I cash in a £12,500 pension pot, buy an annuity or keep it invested?
245) Am I paying tax on my state pension TWICE and should I leave it off my tax return?
244) Do I have to keep paying my financial adviser £4,000 a year for minding my pension investments, if I’m happy with them as they are?
STEVE WEBB ANSWERS YOUR PENSION QUESTIONS
243) I’m trying to buy an annuity with a £55k pension pot and was gobsmacked to find my broker gets a £1,155 commission: Is this right or fair?
242) I’m 71, and didn’t know I was entitled to a state pension: Can I have it now and how much would I get?
241) Will I inherit any of my late husband’s state pension when I start drawing mine?
240) I’m 41 and my Sipp is currently worth £150,000 – is the £1million Lifetime Allowance likely to affect me later down the line?
239) Help! My late ex-husband wanted me to inherit his bank pension, but the scheme refuses to pay me
238) I took a £20k pension and accidentally triggered a tax limit on future savings – will this stop me putting money in my new job’s scheme?
237) Should I take a 25% lump sum from my final salary pension and stick it in the bank or choose a bigger retirement income?
236) Why do tax and benefit rules for older unmarried couples contradict each other – and always at OUR expense?
235) I worked to get my full state pension in retirement, so why are people on pension credit better off than me?
234) I’m 84 and can only just make ends meet, so why has my state pension gone up by just 1.6% instead of 2.5% this year?
233) How can I boost my wife’s pension to make up for sacrificing 10 years of work to raise our children, so we can retire at the same age?
232) My employer hasn’t put me in a pension scheme and I’m worried to report it in case I lose my job – what can I do?
231) Help! My mum was underpaid state pension by the DWP for 12 years, and now the council is coming after her backpayment
230) Can I take a 25% lump sum from my final salary pension and leave the rest where it is?
229) Should I have inherited anything from my late husband’s annuity pension – and was he wrongly advised to buy one?
228) I have a £1m-plus pension and will turn 55 in 2028, just before the age you can access private pots rises to 57 – could it affect me?
227) Older women have been denied a stunning £3bn in state pension – have you been affected?
226) My pension firm wants to know if I will buy an annuity when I retire – could my answer affect my investments?
225) I’m divorced so can I claim a higher state pension based on my ex-husband’s National Insurance record?
224) How can I find out if my civil service pension is invested ethically and not in fossil fuels?
223) I’m 57 and my firm is closing its final salary pension: Should I take it, transfer out or wait?
222) Do superior NHS pension provisions make it worthwhile me taking a £7K pay cut to move to a job there?
221) How much damage will my state pension take from being contracted out for 18 years?
220) My partner has lost her widow’s benefit because we live together – is this right, or fair?
219) My late father qualified for winter fuel payment, so will it still be paid?
218) I’ve got a £1m-plus pension at age 48: Is it worth paying in more now I’ve hit the lifetime allowance limit?
217) Why don’t my company pensions built up before 1988 rise with inflation?
216) My mother is being moved to end of life care which is totally funded by the NHS: Is she still entitled to claim her state pension?
215) Is it worth paying into a pension when you are 64 and a non-taxpayer?
214) I’ve never had a pension because I don’t think they’re worth the paper they are written on – am I right?
213) I’m 56 and tidying up my pensions, so should I cash in an old one worth £600?
212) I am in my 30s and too ill to work, so should I buy state pension top-ups now to boost my 13-year record?
211) My pension was rescued when an old employer went bust, but why don’t the payments ever rise with inflation?
210) I’m 73, my wife has lost her job, and we don’t qualify for universal credit – how can we cope on £1,000 a month?
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209) How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits?
208) I have more than £1m in my pension pot and my scheme says I can retire from age 50 – but isn’t the minimum age 55?
207) Why did I get a free state pension credit while in school, but none in my university years?
206) My final salary pension is being moved to an insurer – can I now invest my pot in a drawdown scheme?
205) My firm is launching a salary sacrifice scheme – but I’m 62, so is it worth joining?
204) My partner died suddenly after we lived together for 23 years: We never married, so do I have any right to his pensions?
203) My husband was a firefighter for 30 years but died before getting his state pension – will I inherit it?
202) Help! My sister is 62 and only on a small pension – why can’t she get universal credit?
201) Why does carer’s allowance stop at state pension age? I’m still caring for my husband who had three strokes
200) Why is my friend on a much bigger £250 a week state pension, though I earned more?
199) I retired with £1.4m but want to work again: Will I take a tax hit if I start a new pension now?
198) I’m 39, have lost my job and am in debt – can I unlock my £18k pension? With huge tax penalties and scam risks Steve Webb warns: DON’T do it!
197) My firm wants to cut my pay by a fifth – will this hit my final salary pension too?
196) My late husband wanted me to inherit his extra state pension payments: Did I lose out despite all his efforts?
195) Help! I’m a retired teacher and need to know how state pension top-ups work
194) We are much worse off from losing benefits since I began drawing my state pension – can I stop taking it?
193) Our autistic daughter is unlikely to benefit from a pension we invested in for her – what should we do about it?
192) How will drawing my state pension affect my TfL pension and what happens if I work part-time?
191) I am 70 and have deferred my state pension, but people tell me this is ‘silly’ – are they right?
190) What will happen to our pension credit payments when I start drawing a state pension?
189) Help! My pension pot could run out within four years if I keep taking the same income
188) I’ve just lost my husband to Covid-19 and can now barely pay the bills: I can’t work, don’t have a state pension yet, and get reduced bereavement help
187) I cashed in my £91,000 pension to buy a terraced house: Why is it taking ages to get overpaid tax back?
186) My employer has handed my final salary pension to an insurer – how safe is it now?
185) I lived with my late partner for 33 years but can’t inherit his state pension because we never married – how can I fight this?
184) Will my final salary pension be affected by the coronavirus crisis?
183) I just found out I’m not divorced after 30 years! If I make it official finally, will it increase my state pension?
182) I’m a widow with young twins who inherited a £148,000 pension pot after my husband died, but it’s down 18% – what should I do?
181) Will I inherit any of my terminally ill husband’s state pension when he dies?
180) I’m desperate not to lose my £480k pension pot, but it’s down thousands – what can I do?
179) My firm deducts my pension contribution then sits on it for three weeks – should I challenge this?
178) I stupidly left the NHS pension scheme, but is it worth opting back in at age 50 while earning £34,000 a year?
177) My husband has a £380,000 pension pot, how can we ensure our children inherit what we don’t use and what tax will they pay?
176) My wife is cashing a small pension and will breach the £12,500 income tax threshold – can she avoid a tax bill?
175) Why must I pay tax on my pension AND savings?
174) My 73-year-old mum is separated from my dad and on £80 a week state pension – should she get more?
173) My wife’s state pension was underpaid for 13 years, so why will she only get ONE back?
172) Did my wife lose some state pension while I was a soldier in the 1970s? Special rules for military spouses may help this couple
171) How are qualifying years for the state pension worked out, and how easy is it to ‘lose’ one of them?
170) When will the earliest age you can tap into a pension rise to 57 and should my wife use an Isa to bridge the gap?
169) I moved my army pension worth £75k into a Sipp: It’s lost £17k in six years and fees are 3.5% – what should I do?
168) Should I take 25% lump sums from all my pension pots at once, or do it in order?
167) How much do I need to earn to get a qualifying year towards the state pension?
166) Does it really take 12 WEEKS to move my pension pot into drawdown? It’s unacceptable to be out of the market that long!
165) Can I claim pension credit until I access my £103,000 pension pot at age 70?
164) Why is my Guaranteed Minimum Pension not rising in line with inflation? Steve Webb replies
163) Why is my friend getting a bigger state pension when he was contracted out much longer than me?
162) How do I cash in my pension valued at £250,000 to buy a house and is it a good idea?
161) My state pension will be cut by £70 a week from next April – what’s going on?
160) I was a nurse for 12 years but the NHS can’t find my pension records dating back to the 1970s – what can I do?
159) I didn’t pay enough National Insurance to receive a state pension – but can I claim a payout on the basis of my wife’s excess?
158) I’m terminally ill at the age of 60, but due a full state pension – will it just be lost now?
157) I want to use a big pay rise and bonus to boost my pension, after failing to save much in my 20s – what’s the best way to do this?
156) Will my disability and sickness benefits stop if I start taking my NHS pension?
155) Should I join the NHS pension scheme at age 60? I’ve started working full-time and plan to continue for as long as I can
154) My husband deferred his state pension and wants it as a lump sum now – but got a shock ‘no’: Is there a way to get the cash?
153) I didn’t know I was due a bereavement payout after losing my husband suddenly – why am I being refused it now?
152) Should I buy an annuity to cover care fees for my mum if Prime Minister Johnson is going to fix the system’s funding crisis?
151) I was ‘contracted out’ but my National Insurance payments to build up state pension weren’t reduced – what should I do?
150) Will my partner lose state pension inherited from his late wife if we get married?
149) I retired early due to ill health – how do I continue to build up my state pension?
148) Why won’t I get a full state pension after paying NI for 39 years – isn’t that four years more than I need?
147) Should I fake a divorce with my wife so we can split my pension and avoid a tax bill, then remarry her?
146) I am 38 and in debt but I have £150k in my pension, so can I get at that early?
145) Should I top up my state pension? I am 62 and only have seven years’ National Insurance paid up so far
144) I’m 65 and drawing my company pension, but I’ve kept my job: Should I carry on paying in to the work scheme?
143) What is the downside of signing your house over to your children to avoid care fees?
142) Can I start taking an old pension and still put £40k a year into my two other ones?
141) I was self-employed and paid NI for 50 years – why don’t I get a full state pension?
140) Should I start tapping my pension or leave it alone during all the political upheaval?
139) My brother is likely to go into a care home, but what will happen to his state pension?
138) I want to take a 25% tax-free pension lump sum, but after that can I pay in a £40,000 or £4,000 maximum each year?
137) My state pension forecast was wrong, so should I rely on the new figure and buy top-ups?
136) I have a £310k pension pot at age 41 – how do I work out what that might grow to in coming years?
135) My pension scheme has severe penalties for retiring early, so should I use my £100k savings to buy an annuity?
134) I kept my final salary pension, but my colleagues are taking pots worth hundreds of thousands – did I make a big mistake?
133) Does caring for parents aged in their 90s qualify me for extra state pension top-ups?
132) Why has my late daughter ‘lost’ her DHL pension, which she paid into for nearly two years?
131) If you move in with someone too ill to cope alone, do you risk losing your widow’s pension?
130) If my pension fund keeps growing after I retire, can I have extra bites of the 25% tax-free lump sum?
129) Can I avoid drawing a private pension so I can keep my pension credit?
128) Women paid extra for ‘graduated pension’ because they used to retire before men – so are they being shortchanged now?
127) My husband worked 20 hours a week while on pension credit – could he get in trouble over it?
126) I’ve been offered the chance to transfer INTO a final salary pension, so should I take it?
124) My wife’s state pension was cut by 10% out of the blue, with no explanation: Can we fight this?
123) I want to take a 25% lump sum and leave the rest of my pension where it is – why am I being told no?
122) I don’t need my state pension so can I put payments on hold – and will I benefit from doing this?
121) I’m saving £400 a month, but still only due a measly pension at 65 – what am I missing?
120) We’re separated but not divorced, so will my estranged husband’s death increase or cut my pension and benefits?
119) My pension scheme will cut my wife’s payouts if I die, because she’s 17 years younger: Isn’t this ageist and illegal?
118) I have incomplete years in my NI record that it’s too late to fill – can I get a refund on wasted contributions?
117) My sister-in-law will get no extra state pension after her husband died – is it because she was his second wife?
116) What bereavement payments are widows entitled to? I only received small sums when my husband died
115) Can couples inherit state pension from each other, and how much might they get?
114) My employer runs a ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme, but how does it boost my pension? Steve Webb replies
113) Will 25% tax free pension cash get axed in the Budget – and could it just go straight away?
112) Should I delay taking my state pension to get bigger payouts later? What are the pitfalls?
111) Are you likely to become a pension millionaire? How much you can save tax-free and how the lifetime allowance limit works
110) I am being offered £5,500 a year from a £22,000 pension pot – an annuity rate of 25%! Is this too good to be true?
109) My wife earns £7k working part-time at a school, so is she losing pension tax top-ups paid to the better-off?
108) My husband and I have vastly different sized pensions, so how did our transfer values both end up about £225k?
107) I’m a retired House of Fraser worker – is my pension safe after its recent administration?
106) I’m only 34 but my pension firm wants me to decide NOW between drawdown and an annuity – what should I do?
105) What should you do if HMRC makes an ’emergency’ tax raid on your pension cash?
104) Advisers keep telling me to move my pension pots to new firms with higher fees: Am I missing a trick here?
103) I’ve been offered a better pension now in exchange for poorer one later – should I accept? The pros and cons of PIE offers
102) Can I stop work and draw my pension at 50 due to ill health?
101) Can my wife claim some of her late ex’s pension? They split their assets amicably without going to court but then he died
100) I used to work at a care home that went bust, so how do I track down my pension?
99) I put my husband’s name first on child benefit form and lost some state pension – what can I do?
98) Should I have inherited some of my husband’s state pension after his death?
97) Before their marriage my sister’s husband nominated his work pension death benefits to go to his mum: if he dies who will get it?
96) Why won’t I get a full state pension even though I paid National Insurance for 38 years?
95) What happens to my state pension if my husband moves into a care home?
94) How do I set up a pension from scratch?
93) I work part-time, care for my disabled husband and pay the ‘married woman’s stamp: What state pension will I get at retirement?
92) My state pension was just 11p a week! It went up when my husband retired, but should my years as a mother count too?
91) Investing my pension pot at retirement sounds risky – can I just put it in cash?
90) Can I spend one pension pot when I turn 60 and then save another one for later?
89) Can I give my wife half my pension? I will retire on £20k a year and she has nothing
88) What’s an ‘acceptable’ pension pot to retire on? Can I use some of it now to buy a house?
87) Does the ‘bedroom tax’ affect people on pension credit?
86) Do I have any rights to pension money from a job I held for three months in 1984?
85) My mum was ‘contracted out’ by the NHS – did this help her pension and where did her money go?
84) Should I spend £20k of my savings on an annuity for guaranteed income in old age?
83) Am I entitled to a £200 a week state pension after paying National Insurance for 51 years?
82) Why do my heirs only pay tax on my pension left to them if I die after my 75th birthday?
81) My wife has lost state pension by not signing up for child benefits – how can we fight this?
80) The Government is churning out wrong state pension forecasts – shouldn’t they come with a warning?
79) Can my husband’s ex-wife claim on his state pension, and would this reduce what he gets?
78) Can I take my 25% tax-free lump sum from one pension pot and leave my other alone for later?
77) My energy firm docked 5% VAT off my Warm Home Discount – but shouldn’t I get the full £140?
76) Will my father’s second wife receive a widow’s pension from the NHS?
75) I am 73 and have just remarried – will I lose my widow’s state pension?
74) I want to leave the British Steel pension scheme – what should I do?
73) My state pension is made up of basic, Serps and graduated parts: Why do they increase at different annual rates?
72) I’m retired but bored – would going back to work part-time hit my pension payouts?
71) Why must I pay big fees to a financial adviser to move my pension? I know what I’m doing
70) Why is my state pension being cut for years I was CONTRACTED IN and paid full contributions?
69) How do I ensure my children inherit my pension if I die young? I’ve been saving for years
68) Should my pub cleaner friend paid cash ‘off the books’ become self-employed to pay NI towards a state pension?
67) My old pension scheme is demanding I give back £18k I’ve already spent – must I pay up?
66) I am too ill to work and need to claim my pension and other benefits, but it’s a minefield
65) How do my wife and I avoid paying any tax on our £22,700 pension income legally?
64) My husband contracted out and my state pension payments have GONE DOWN since he died!
63) I’m trying to claim state pension credits for my disabled husband and it’s a nightmare – can you help?
62) I live in France and want to get my Winter Fuel Allowance back, as it was scrapped due to balmy tropical island weather – what are my chances?
61) I am 49 and want my pension now to pay my mortgage, but is this early release offer a scam?
60) My husband died and I have £100k from his pensions – how do I get a decent income for my retirement?
59) I want to take a quarter of my pension tax-free – can I do this all in one go or only in chunks?
58) My partner and I are aged 79 – what happens with our pensions if we marry now?
57) I’m 62 now, will I reach state pension age at 66 or have to wait even longer?
56) Why am I being offered a much more measly deal to move my final salary pension than my wife?
55) My dad deferred his pension and died before taking it, so why can’t we claim?
54) I paid NI for 32 years, so I’m just short of the full state pension – what’s the best way to top up?
53) Will the 25% tax-free pension lump sum be abolished by the time I retire?
52) I’m 31 and earned more than £200k last year, so now have a £10k pension limit. How do I save for retirement?
51) Is it worth joining my company pension scheme at age 60 and earning £7,670 a year?
50) How do you avoid a 40% tax hit when taking a large amount of money from your pension pot?
49) Why is my wife’s 25% tax-free pension lump sum deal so miserly, and mine more generous?
48) Can I use my pension pot to buy my daughter a house after I get access to it at age 55?
47) Why am I being deprived of £155 full state pension despite paying NI for 45 years after I was ‘contracted out’ behind my back?
46) Can I draw a pension and carry on working full time? Will I get stung on tax and NI?
45) I’m a grounds worker struggling with work at only 52 – why can’t I claim state pension early but get lower payouts?
44) Why am I losing inflation benefits of my Guaranteed Minimum Pension?
43) I’m 35 and in the Tata Steel pension scheme: Can I cash out my savings and walk away?
42) I’m nearly 40 – what’s the best way to top up my pension and retire at 60 and should I use a new Lifetime Isa?
41) My wife is a retired teacher still saving into a private pot: Will she be hit by new ‘pension recycling’ tax trick limit?
40) My state pension forecast says I’m due full £155, but surely it’s wrong because I contracted out?
39) I feel like I’ve been conned out of a full state pension: How do I know if Government calculations of what I am due are correct?
38) My wife has a short time to live and we are trying to make sure I get as much of her state and private pensions as possible – how do we keep hold of her savings?
37) Must older married women wait for husbands to reach retirement age to get state pension?
36) I had to forfeit my late wife’s pension just because I remarried – how is this fair?
35) Should I transfer my £16k local government pension pot into a private scheme?
34) I don’t pay tax but do contribute to a pension – can I get tax relief on my payments?
33) I divorced in 1972 and became a single working mum – how did this affect my state pension?
32) Will my wife get a state pension increase if I die before she does?
31) Will my company still pay into my pension while I’m on maternity leave?
30) Why has drawing the state pension changed my tax code – and why wasn’t I warned sooner?
29) I’m divorcing – can my ex-husband take half my pension and cash in his share?
28) I’m an ex-civil servant who was ‘contracted out’ – can I pay a top-up to get full new state pension?
27) I want to sell my annuity for cash – how do I get the best deal?
26) I am divorced – how much of my state pension could I lose if I remarry?
25) Why am I doubled-taxed with National Insurance when I worked and then income tax on my state pension?
24) Why does the Government assume savers are earning unrealistic interest rates like 6.9% when assessing benefits?
23) I’m in ill health but not claiming benefits – can I get NI credits towards a state pension?
22) Should I cash in one of my pension pots to get shot of my mortgage?
21) ‘Triple lock’ rises in the state pension will favour people getting new flat rate – how is this fair?
20) My daughter’s firm wants her to put £6k pension pot in Government scheme – should she?
19) I enlisted in the Royal Navy and my wife was a full-time mum – what state pension will we get?
18) I’m 55, self-employed, disabled and confused by pension paperwork – should I cash in my pot or keep saving?
17) A quarter of my £648 monthly pension goes on council tax – how is this fair?
16) Can I top up my state pension to get the full £155.65 a week?
15) Is it worth saving into a pension while scrimping to get by on £15k a year?
14) My online state pension forecast says I’ll get just £132.78 a week – is the website faulty?
13) Can I turn a £120-a-month pension into cash to help pay off my mortgage?
12) My state pension is just £80.42. Is this right? I thought I would be entitled to more?
11) Can you use pension freedoms to blow your savings, then go on benefits?
10) I took time out of work to look after my children – how much state pension will I get?
9) I’ve got many small pension pots – should I merge them?
8) Should I buy top-ups or fill in missing NI years to boost state pension?
7) I’m a nurse in the 40% tax bracket – am I getting too little pension tax relief?
6) I paid National Insurance for 44 years and got £115 a week state pension, while people now can work for 30 years and get £133: How is that fair?
5) Can you still get a state pension if you earn too little to pay NI?
4) Will my state pension top-ups benefit from the triple lock?
3) How do I find cheap financial advice about my pension?
2) Are additional and deferred state pension increases ‘triple locked’?
1) Can I claim my dead ex-husband’s state pension?
Ask Steve Webb a pension question
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.
He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.
Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.
If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at email@example.com.
Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.
If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.
Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.
TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS
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