More than four in five military wives are failing to claim part of their state pensions, with the total loss estimated to be £480m, according to Royal London.
A Freedom of Information request made by the firm showed that of the 20,000 wives who are eligible for National Insurance credit, just 3,765 women have applied, with each of those who haven’t facing losses of up to £30,000 from their state pension pot.
In 2016 the government introduced the National Insurance credit system to help women who spent time overseas as a result of their husbands military service, during which time they would not be making National Insurance Contributions.
Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, has called for urgent government action to help those losing out.
Webb said: “This is a very good scheme to recognise the service of military wives over the years, but the take-up so far has been very poor. Women should not be suffering in retirement for their loyal service alongside their husbands overseas.
“The government should not simply wait for people to claim but should actively identify those who might be eligible and make sure that they get the money that they are entitled to.”
A couple who have recently claimed back six years of credit back, but who did not wish to be named, has urged all married accompanied postings to check whether they are eligible for this “very generous concession to military spouses”.
The credit can be claimed back from 1975, with a full year counting towards the 35 years needed to earn a full state pension and applies to those under the new state pension system, namely women born after 5 April 1953. Widows and those who divorced their husband who served in the military can also claim the credits.
At current rates, the credits amount to £237 per year, with the average woman who is reaching pension age today expected to draw her pension for 25 years, the value would reach £29,630 over the course of her retirement.