HC Deb 05 June 2000 vol 351 cc98-9W
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if additional pension entitlement based on earnings will be calculated automatically; or if each pensioner will be requested to claim individually; [124200]

(2) how many pensioners in receipt of basic rate state pension are awaiting re-assessment of additional pension entitlement based on earnings; [124199]

(3) when additional pension processing will be completed; and if there will be retrospective payment of additional pension based on earnings. [124201]

Mr. Rooker

The additional pension (SERPS) component of a State Retirement Pension is calculated automatically by the National Insurance Recording System (NIRS) computer. There is no need for a pensioner to request separately payment of SERPS—completion of one claim form suffices for all components which can make up a pension with the exception of a claim for a dependency increase when a separate claim form must be completed.

Most people who are entitled to both basic pension and additional pension (SERPS) have that entitlement available to receive in time for their first pension pay day. There are however about 60,000 claims a year where NIRS has not been able to supply the SERPS rate. The principal reason for this is the existence on the person's National Insurance account of a discrepancy regarding the time they were contracted out of SERPS. That discrepancy must be resolved before NIRS can provide the SERPS rate. Putting right the discrepancy falls to the Inland Revenue's Contracted Out Employments Group (COEG) but the delayed implementation of NIRS2 has meant they have not until recently been able to do this. As a result the Benefits Agency and COEG have carried out clerical calculations to ensure that as far as possible pensioners receive their SERPS entitlements on time. There are 22,000 claims waiting for a clerical calculation. The Benefits Agency expects to complete its recovery from the effects of the delayed implementation of NIRS2 by the end of this year including cases where there has been a delay in processing the additional pension (SERPS). All clerical calculations will be compared with the NIRS2 calculations. Any which are wrong will be revised and full arrears paid if there has been an underpayment along with any compensation if all the conditions of the DSS Special Payments Scheme are satisfied. Any overpayments incurred will not be recovered although the awards will have to be revised.