Bereaved people do NOT have to return state pension wrongly paid to the deceased – but government will request it on behalf of taxpayers
State pension: Bereaved people who receive overpayments made in error after someone’s death are not legally obliged to refund them
Bereaved people who receive state pension overpaid in error after someone’s death are not legally obliged to refund it, the Government has confirmed.
It admits letters sent to relatives requesting repayment do not spell this out, but says those who phone the number given are told they won’t be pursued for the money.
The Government explained its procedure for attempting to recover overpaid state pension and other benefits after someone’s death following a case featured on a recent episode of BBC’s Money Box.
Presenter Paul Lewis tweeted: ‘DWP demands relatives of recently deceased repay pensions that it failed to stop quickly.
‘A listener was told she should pay £625 for grandma who’d died with nothing.
‘DWP admits to @Moneybox it has no legal right to recover the money. But letters don’t say that.’
Bereaved relatives who use the Government’s Tell Us Once service should get all benefits paid to their loved ones stopped swiftly, but sometimes it is too late to do this, especially if some payments are made in advance.
People reaching state pension age now are paid four weeks in arrears, unless they request it weekly or fortnightly in arrears, which makes overpayments less likely to happen.
But anyone who began getting their state pension before April 2010 had the option to receive payments a week in advance.
When it is too late to stop payments, the Government requests the recipient returns them voluntarily, on the principle that public funds have been incorrectly paid.
It writes to people once for each overpaid benefit, but doesn’t chase up afterwards or take any further action if money is not forthcoming.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: ‘It is not our intention to cause distress, however, we have a responsibility to taxpayers to attempt to recover overpayments.
‘We acknowledge this is not always possible. There is no legal obligation to repay a debt of this type.
‘We provide full contact details and encourage anyone with concerns to call us.’
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