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Women lose state pension ruling

The High Court has rejected a campaign which accused the government of mishandling the raising of women’s state pension age to be in line with men’s.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

Yesterday campaigners lost an important court battle against the government about how they handled the recent rise in women’s state pension age to be in line with men’s.

The High Court rejected campaign group Backto60’s fight for the reimbursement of their state pensions, backdated to age 60, instead siding with the government.

What’s happened?

Plans to increase the state pension age were announced firstly in the Pensions Act 1995, but the changes were fast-tracked as part of the Pensions Act 2011.

The retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65, in line with men, and will also go up to 66 by 2020 and to 67 by 2028 – as will men’s.

That said, women born in the 1950s have for a while said that this rise is unfair as they weren’t given enough notice to make adjustments to prepare for the extra years without the state pension. Backto60 and other key campaign group the Women against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) have claimed these changes were implemented with insufficient notice.

In the emotive legal battle this week, Backto60 also argued that the changes were a form of gender discrimination. But judges disagreed, saying that there was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because the legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law - rather it “equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women.”

This won’t be any consolation to those affected, though. It is estimated that 3.8 million women were in this position, with some potentially losing out on more than £40,000, so it’s understandable – especially with other disadvantages women already face with regard to their pension – that this decision will be a blow to many.

And given most of the women involved in the campaign are already past their state pension age, it’s difficult to see where the campaign will lead to next.

Our view

It’s inevitable that retirement ages have to rise. We’re living longer, wages aren’t rising as quickly as they used to and interest rates are low. Some people are finding that when they reach retirement age their only options are to work longer than they hoped and therefore retire for less time.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. One critical learning point from this court judgement, according to our pensions expert Tom McPhail, is that people need to prepare for retirement well in advance.

Tom says that “it was this disconnect between these women’s expectations and their impending reality check of a later state pension, which has resulted in the lawyers getting involved.

Millions of people in their 40s and 50s are still heading towards a nasty shock when they find out what retirement has in store for them.”

How do I start to plan for retirement?

It’s never too late – or too early – to start a plan for your retirement. If you want to work out whether you’re contributing enough to your pension at the moment to reach the type of retirement you would like, it could be worth looking at our pension calculator.

Pension calculator

If you’re in your 50s or approaching retirement soon, it’s certainly not too late to start planning and it could be a good time to get things in order. We’ve put together our top tips for getting things in order for the right retirement for you.

Retirement planning in your 50s

Remember this article, our calculators, and guides can’t give personal advice. What you do with your pension is an important decision. If you’re unsure what to do, seek advice. The government service Pension Wise can also help with planning your retirement, such as finding out the age you will receive a state pension, when you can access private pensions and more.

Pension Wise

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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