A PENSIONER has spoken of her distress after she has been made to pay back more than £1,400 to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Kathleen Yeates, 88, from Southsea, had her pension overpaid over 17 years and, after a mistake came to light in 2016, she has had to pay back £11 per week ever since.
DWP says she did not declare an existing annuity – but Kathleen said she could not remember if she had declared it or not, and accused the DWP of incompetence after not carrying out regular reviews.
She said: ‘I never classed it as a pension, I didn’t even know that it would count. It was 20-odd years ago and they expect me to remember. I am a disabled 80-odd year-old. I suspect a younger, fitter person would have trouble remembering that far back.
‘The DWP didn’t do a review for 17 years, now they are making me pay for it.’
Kathleen took out an annuity with Aviva in 1995 after an insurance policy matured. She invested £1,200, which would pay her £189 per year.
She now regrets taking out this policy, says she would have been better off spending the money and wants to warn others about falling into the same situation.
She said: ‘I can’t get rid of that policy now. I can’t cash it in, even though I don’t want it.
‘This has put me in debt for the first time in my life. I have worked since I was 14 years old, I wish I’d put the little amount of money I had saved back into a proper bank account – or used it.’
A DWP spokesman said: ‘Pension credit is a means-tested benefit and it is important that people declare all sources of income when making a claim. The department has a duty to recover overpayments made if someone fails to notify us of savings or income.’
He added that help was available for anyone wanting to check their eligibility via the pensions service helpline on 0345 606 0265.