Jessica Beard: End the annuity impasse

Ending the pension impasse: DWP phone chaos means thousands could lose out in retirement, says Jessica Beard

An optimistic civil servant told me last week that it takes “a few minutes” to check the state pension forecast.

If this is true, then why do we hear about families waiting months for this vital information?

Without it, you wouldn’t know if you could take advantage of the great offer of increasing your pension by filling in the gaps in your National Insurance history over the past 16 years.

Without your state pension projections, you will not know if you can take advantage of the offer to increase your state pension by filling in the gaps in your national insurance.

Delays: Without state pension projections, you won’t know if you can take advantage of the offer to increase your payments by filling in holes in your National Insurance record.

Thousands of people could top their retirement—but when they call to find out more about the program, they’re stuck on the phone.

Our reporters tried the official Future Pension Center phone line this week – and it didn’t work at all.

Every call we made was dropped after two minutes of listening to the automated options menu. Which is the pesky one that warns you to take action before the impending July 31st deadline to use the current top-up scheme.

What officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fail to realize is how difficult this can be for anyone retiring.

You only have until the end of July to fill in the gaps in your National Insurance record going back to 2006. After that, you’ll be limited to the previous six years. However, with a little help on hand, some find it impossible to act.

If you miss the deadline, you could lose tens of thousands of pounds later in life. No wonder many people panic.

The government has already extended the application deadline once after it was swept up by a wave of calls from savers who feared they would miss out.

A reader told us that she had been trying to increase her state pension since January without success. Let me know if you can beat that.

Once you have your expectations met (or should happen if), you need to request specific information and codes from HMRC and DWP before finally purchasing that extra income. It’s time to make the Byzantine Fill Scheme a whole lot easier.

Flying at high distances

What a refreshing change to hear about an airline that is going out of its way to make life better for customers.

One reader, James Smith, told me that the airline Jet2 went to great lengths to help his mother get to his grandmother’s deathbed before it was too late.

James calls the airline to warn them of the seriousness of the situation when his mother is in the middle of a flight. His grandmother had only hours left to live.

To James’ surprise, the crew prioritize dropping his mother off, seeing her through customs and quickly arranging a taxi for her from Leeds Bradford Airport. Her belongings were delivered safely to the nursing home just a few hours later.

Hats off to the officials at Jet2 for pulling out stops to help customers in need. James and his family were touched by the act of kindness.

Airlines are often guilty of losing mountains of baggage or refusing to refund money for canceled or delayed flights. But Jet2 showed what they could do when they put their minds to it.

discount dementia

Watching a loved one with dementia deteriorate over time is horrific. My grandmother has battled Alzheimer’s in recent years, so I’ve seen it myself.

Even simple tasks become difficult – especially when money is involved. Counting change at periods is a challenge, let alone managing a pension or investments.

It’s a sad truth that people with dementia are an easy target for ruthless scammers who go out of their way to identify them. They put them on a list of “suckers” distributed by criminal gangs so that they can be targeted more frequently.

So the new debit card for people with dementia launched by Sibstar is a step in the right direction.

It’s a much-needed option for families worried about their loved ones’ spending. The big downside is the high fees.

Now let’s see the big banks follow in their footsteps with similar cards (and please, keep them free).

There is a lot banks, retailers and the government can do to make spending safer for the rapidly growing number of families who must manage life with this daunting scourge.

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