Expat pensioners are telling the government that they may be old but should not have to prove their not dead so they can pick up the state pension.
Campaigners fighting mounting pressure from the government to wriggle out of paying overseas state pensioners as much as those in the UK are complaining ‘proof of life’ certificates are a step too far.
But the government says too many expats fiddle benefits and the state pension by making claims they are not entitled to.
The Department of Work and Pensions reckons savings of £45 million a year by halting state pension payments to dead expats.
However, pension campaigners say proving they are still alive is costly and involves too much red-tape.
The issue is some countries where expat pensioners live do not tell the British government when a pensioner dies. In some cases, families and spouses carry on claiming the pension.
The government wants expat pensioners in these countries to provide a certificate once every two years to show they are still alive.
The certificate must be countersigned by a doctor or lawyer who has seen the pensioner and proof of their identity.
Sheila Telford, chairman of the International Consortium of British Pensioners, said: “The short time limit for returning the certificate before the pension is stopped is a problem. So is the cost involved, particularly for expats with frozen pensions on a severely diminished income.”
The government already asks for life certificates, but only from random expats.
The new requirement applies to pensioners who do not live in Australia, Spain, the US and New Zealand.
Pensioners will receive forms to fill out and return biannually from their 75th birthday.
Ms Telford claims one British expat in Canada spent £63 to get her certificate signed and back to the pensions department within the time limit – which came to more than one week’s pension payment.
Other new measures affecting expat pensioners include cancelling winter fuel payments of between £200 and £300 a year to those living in countries where the average winter temperature is warmer than that in Britain.
From April 2015, expat pensioners, in line with other property owners based overseas with homes in the UK will lose their capital gains tax exemption as non-residents.
A consultation is expected to soon to set the rate of tax and how the payment will be collected.
Non-working spouses of retired expats will also lose the married person’s allowance.
3 thoughts on “Expat State Pensioners Protest About Proof Of Life”
Sheila Telford is absolutely right but it seems that the politicians do not want to hear the truth or make the right decisions. The pensions of many ex-pats is frozen and it seems many in the UK do not know or realise this but the government ministers certainly do but keep on turning a blind eye to them. These pensioners should by right have the fully indexed pension for a start and also the vote as they are answerable to the UK government for tax purposes as well and have paid their contribution in life. The government are able to manipulate pensions without any opportunity for the ex-pat to show their feeling at the ballot box which is wrong. All we hear is that Cameron wants fairness for all pensions but fails to deliver. The department says that they would save 45 million a year but have no idea how much money is saved by the ex-pat NOT being in the UK and when presented with a report by the Oxford Economics in this regard they considered it worthless without any reasoning to back their position and when I put a question to the Freedom of Information office the answer came back saying that the department did not know the costing of their own department.. That says it all !
OK – just how are we supposed to know that we’ve been sent a ‘Life Certificate’ if it doesn’t arrive?? How do I know a letter intended for me hasn’t ended up in someone else’s mailbox? How do I know that when my meagre frozen pension stops, that I was sent a form (that I didn’t get) and so it’s impossible to return something in 8 weeks, particularly when I never got it in the first place!!
I, and many hundreds of thousands of frozen pensioners like me, rely on my UK pension for week to week living. It’s bad enough having my pension frozen, let alone it disappear under the ice completely.
Why can’t the DWP phone us, to say a form has been sent. Give us a chance for heaven’s sake!! My number’s in the book. They’ve got my name and address. Surely they know how to use a computer and a search engine by now – they’ve been at it for long enough. ‘Universal Benefit’ must have given them enough practice – but hang on, they screwed that up too, right??
I have long argued re; ‘Pension freeze’ for ex-pats. It seems to me dishonest since being entitled to a full pension by virtue of a full stamp-the legitimate funds are ‘kept’ by the government though some countries do still qualify. I maintain that the only ‘change of circumstance is that of my address which happens to be in Australia- (though I still pay taxes) which is a ‘Commonwealth’ country and thereby should receive all and full pensions.