Civil Service pension - error in calculation and repayment sought

edited 28 February 2020 at 4:42PM in Pensions, Annuities & Retirement Planning
17 replies 1.2K views
Rosa_DamascenaRosa_Damascena Forumite
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A friend is in a bit of distress. She retired from the Civil Service about six years ago and she is now being told that the pension calculation was wrong. She is being asked to repay the excess, which accrued over some years comes to a considerable sum. She also doesn't agree with the figures, which she believed to be correct at the time of retirement - but to my mind that is a separate argument (personally, I'd want the new calculation to be independently validated). The way I see it is that the pension office made a mistake, and they should be liable for it so not to go into the detail of the calculation at this stage. I would also be very surprised if this wasn't a system-wide error and many more people are affected.

What's rubbing salt into the wound is the nature of the letter they sent her and ongoing communication. The CS letter admits the error was on its own part, offers a thin apology and then goes on to ask for the money to be repaid via another form (again I think this is a triggered process rather than personal, but in her shoes it feels very personal). It may be standard process, but its also completely insensitive. She was so shocked that she called the pensions office immediately, and the young pup she spoke to on the phone antagonised her further by telling her that the money would be taken from her estate when she died, and suggested she seek help from an IFA. (I later explained to her that he was no more than a cog in the system and would be unlikely to understand the impact such a letter would have on someone of v limited means).

Advice and comments please? My instinct would be to appeal on principal, the fault was not hers and whilst she will have to accept reduced payments from now on, she just doesn't have the means to pay this bill for overpayment.
No man is worth crawling on this earth.

So much to read, so little time.
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Replies

  • Rosa_DamascenaRosa_Damascena Forumite
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    ^^Thank you!
    No man is worth crawling on this earth.

    So much to read, so little time.
  • I have seen many posts where Civil Servants have been pursued for overpayments - how is it that so many mistakes are made?
  • MarkCarnageMarkCarnage Forumite
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    I have seen many posts where Civil Servants have been pursued for overpayments - how is it that so many mistakes are made?
    Where does one start? I make this comment generically and not specifically in relation to the Civil Service scheme. 
    A system in which many ad hoc changes have been embedded over decades (GMP anyone?). 
    Paper records being computerised.
    The commoditisation and outsourcing of the administration functions, which squeezed out many experienced and competent people to be replaced by unskilled and often untrainable 'cogs'. 
    Pension 'freedoms' in 2015 adding to this workload. 
    My own experience supports all of the above. Fortunately I knew enough to challenge, and then to insist on dealing direct with someone senior and experienced enough to know what they were doing. Even then.....
  • Given I’m hoping to retire in about 2 years from the CS any advice to ensure a smooth process would be appreciated!
  • MarkCarnageMarkCarnage Forumite
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    Check everything very carefully. Don't be afraid to query and re-query if you still think something is wrong. Get the replies in writing. That way, if you've queried something material, and been assured, and reassured that it's ok, they will be in about the same position as a one legged man at an !!!!!! kicking party if the things go pear shaped.....
  • Rosa_DamascenaRosa_Damascena Forumite
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    The article was posted nearly 9 months ago. It looks like there is a constant flow of these letters going out to retired employees. It makes me wonder how many people have been intimidated by these letters.
    No man is worth crawling on this earth.

    So much to read, so little time.
  • edited 3 March 2020 at 8:30AM
    nigelbbnigelbb Forumite
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    edited 3 March 2020 at 8:30AM
    I have seen many posts where Civil Servants have been pursued for overpayments - how is it that so many mistakes are made?
    No doubt partly because there are a lot of Civil Servants but there are an awful lot more people in the NHS pension scheme but we don't seem to hear of similar problems. 
  • ToxicWombleToxicWomble Forumite
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    At the end of the day tho, an error has been made which has been admitted but they want their money back - which is not unreasonable.
    If she had been underpaid would she not want the shortfall paid immediately?
    However - it would be reasonable to expect some kind of repayment plan.
    As for the “young pup” antagonising her on the phone, if you use passive aggressive langauge like that, then expect some people to respond in a manner that you don't necessarily expect.
    Would you like to be referred to in a similar manner that reflected your age ? Probably not.
    Your friend is partially at fault for the error as well for not having a clue what her pension should have been and then not questioning it when it was too much (she must have noticed/thought so)
    And yes, the “young pup” was correct, the sum could be charged against her estate - it’s a debt and needs paying
  • edited 3 March 2020 at 10:17AM
    Rosa_DamascenaRosa_Damascena Forumite
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    edited 3 March 2020 at 10:17AM
    At the end of the day tho, an error has been made which has been admitted but they want their money back - which is not unreasonable.
    If she had been underpaid would she not want the shortfall paid immediately?
    However - it would be reasonable to expect some kind of repayment plan.
    As for the “young pup” antagonising her on the phone, if you use passive aggressive langauge like that, then expect some people to respond in a manner that you don't necessarily expect.
    Would you like to be referred to in a similar manner that reflected your age ? Probably not.
    Your friend is partially at fault for the error as well for not having a clue what her pension should have been and then not questioning it when it was too much (she must have noticed/thought so)
    And yes, the “young pup” was correct, the sum could be charged against her estate - it’s a debt and needs paying
    It's not unreasonable to expect a little professionalism: there are appropriate ways of handling people and this young pup required training here. He was representing the Civilian Service and not himself after all, and all he succeeded in doing was making a bad situation worse. 
    No man is worth crawling on this earth.

    So much to read, so little time.
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