For 3.8 million women born in the 1950s, retiring at age 60 was all they knew.
Until suddenly they learn that they would have to wait another six years to get their state pension.
Six more years of work that none of them, including Moira Holland, had anticipated.
Ms Holland had dedicated 35 years of her working life to the care sector, after grueling and tiring work she was ready to retire at 60 and was counting the days until she could enjoy her retirement.
Vigorous work had also taken a toll on her mental and physical health, but knowing that she was a year away from retirement got her through the tough days.
The devastating blow came via a letter, telling her a year before she was due to say goodbye to work, that she would have to work for six more years and retire at 66 instead.
“It was devastating, absolutely devastating,” Ms Holland told Sky News. “We thought that at 60 we would receive our pension.
“So I was ready to retire, have a good life, get my pension, manage well, and then get the letter saying no – ‘you don’t have to work another year, you have to work six more years until you’re 66 – it was terrible, absolutely terrible.”
Ms Holland says the breaking news nature has had an impact on her health.
“I had mental health issues and arthritis, you know really physically and mentally, I was really, really struggling to work,” she explains.
“Also, a lot of my friends died at 60, and they never got their pension. So on top of the health issues, I’m thinking, will I ever see that pension? Is- what I’m going to live to be 66? Nobody knows. So really, it was very, very heartbreaking.”
Why has the legal retirement age changed?
the legal retirement age was aligned to match men in a move hailed for improving gender equality.
But Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) activists have long argued they weren’t given enough warning of the change, leaving millions of people with insufficient time to prepare or make other financial arrangements.
What was the impact?
Exclusive data shared with Sky News from WASPI has revealed that a third of women affected by the changes are in debt, with up to 80% saying they suffered financial hardship due to the delay in discovering that the retirement age had changed .
So far, 220,190 affected women have died without answers.
The volunteer organization’s campaign chair, Angela Madden, accuses the government of not meeting with members since 2016.
She told Sky News: “The government has never really engaged with us. Guy Opperman was the last pensions minister to meet the WASPI campaign in 2016, which is truly atrocious considering we’ve lost so much to due to government incompetence.
“It is up to the government to change the legal retirement age if necessary.
“There were probably reasons why they did this, but to not have the courtesy to give us notice so we can do anything about it is absolutely shameful, and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
“I did not get the opportunity”
Last year, the Parliamentary Ombudsman concluded that the women should have been given at least 28 months’ notice.
He said the Department for Work and Pensions should have written individual letters to the women affected.
Ms Madden was also personally affected by the poor administration.
“Some women, including myself, chose to stop working before we knew that the legal retirement age was increasing because our parents or family members needed care,” she says.
“I made the choice to quit a full-time job and spend time with my mother in her final days.
“In hindsight, if I had been warned earlier, I probably would have combined taking care of my mother and working part-time. I did not have the opportunity to make this choice.
“If the government had done what it should have done and told us as soon as it found out about the change in the law, we would all have known well in advance and could have made the right decisions. .”
What did the government say?
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told Sky News: “We support millions of people every year and our priority is to ensure they receive the help and support they are entitled to.
“The government decided more than 25 years ago that it was going to make the state retirement age the same for men and women as part of a move towards gender equality. of the sexes.
‘The High Court and Court of Appeal have upheld the actions of the DWP under successive governments since 1995 and the Supreme Court has denied the claimants leave to appeal.’