§ Maria Eagle
This is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, Chief Executive of the Pension Service. She will write to the hon. member.
Letter from Charlie MacKinnon to Mrs. Lait, dated 22 May 2003:The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has asked Alexis Cleveland to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what procedure the Pensions Agency has in place to alert husbands and wives to the enhanced pension for wives when a husband reaches 65; and what checking they do to ensure that the enhanced pension is received. Due to annual leave I am replying on her behalf.A claim package is sent out approximately four months prior to a customer approaching State Pension age (age 65 for a man, age 60 for a woman). This package includes an invitation to claim (form BR833) and a letter of expected entitlement (form BR33M/W). This package is issued to all customers based on whether they have entitlement based on their own National Insurance contributions.Form BR833 informs a married man that if his wife is 60 or over a claim form can be sent to him for her to complete to claim State Pension based on his contributions. Also on form BR33M issued to a man it alerts him that his wife can claim State Pension on his National Insurance contributions. It asks him to advise her to claim if she has a reduced rate State Pension of her own or none at all.There is no facility to invite claims from married women based on the National Insurance contributions of their husbands.There is no checking system because customers reaching State Pension age do not have to claim but can defer receipt of their State Pension for up to 5 years to receive increments added to their basic entitlement.I hope that this is helpful.