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If the Pension Service says you've had a Pension Credit overpayment

This advice applies to Wales

If the Pension Service say you’ve been overpaid Pension Credit it can be possible to challenge their decision. You might be able to reduce the amount you’ve been asked to pay or pay nothing at all.

The Pension Service can only ask you to pay money back if you:  

  • gave wrong information when you first applied or after you started receiving Pension Credit

  • didn’t report a change of circumstances which affected how much Pension Credit you should be receiving

They sometimes make mistakes - you might not have actually been overpaid. Or you might not need to pay all the money back, for example if paying won’t leave you enough to live on.

Check if the Pension Service made a mistake

The Pension Service might think you’ve been overpaid because they’ve got some information wrong. For example, if they think:

  • you live with a partner when you don’t

  • you’re earning more than you are

  • you have more savings than you do

They should say why they think you’ve been overpaid when they write to tell you about the overpayment.

The letter should include a table showing the amount of Pension Credit you’ve received and the amount you should have been paid. Check the figures and make sure the overpayment dates are correct.

For example, you should challenge the decision if you’re being asked to repay 6 months of Pension Credit payments because of a change that happened a month ago.

Call the Pension Service if the reason isn’t clear.

Pension Service helpline

Telephone: 0800 731 0469

Textphone: 0800 169 0133

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

If you think you were paid the right amount and weren't overpaid

You should tell the Pension Service if you think you were entitled to all or some of the Pension Credit you received and weren’t overpaid.

You’ll need to ask them to look at the decision again - known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You only have a month to ask for mandatory reconsideration, starting from when you get the letter.

See challenging a Pension Credit decision for how to ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

If you think you've been paid too much by mistake

You should challenge paying back an overpayment that’s not your fault. For example, if you were overpaid because the Pension Service:

  • made a mistake when calculating your payments

  • didn’t correctly record your information

  • didn’t act on any change of circumstances you told them about

  • didn’t correct a mistake you told them about

Carefully read the overpayment letter, or call the Pension Service, to find out if they want you to pay back the overpayment.

If the Pension Service do want you to pay them back, ask for a mandatory reconsideration to challenge the decision. You only have a month to ask for mandatory reconsideration, starting from when you get the letter.

See challenging a Pension Credit decision for how to ask for a mandatory reconsideration.

If the Pension Service didn’t make a mistake

You might have been overpaid because you didn’t tell the Pension Service something you were meant to. For example, you might have forgotten to tell them you:

  • moved in with your partner

  • noticed an increase in your income

  • stopped being a carer

Sometimes you can challenge the overpayment if you didn’t tell them something or if you made a mistake on a form. This can be difficult, so it’s best to get help. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to ask an adviser to help you challenge the overpayment.

How you’ll pay the Pension Service back

The Pension Service will recover the overpayment either by:

  • making deductions from your Pension Credit payments

  • taking it out of other benefits you receive

  • agreeing with you a repayment plan  

  • taking amounts directly from your wages

  • getting a court order for debt recovery

Coronavirus – if your repayments for a benefit overpayment were temporarily stopped

Your repayments will start again after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) temporarily stopped them because of coronavirus.

The DWP will write to you to tell you when your repayments will automatically restart if:

  • you make repayments by Direct Debit

  • your repayments are taken from your benefits or earnings

They’ll either write you a letter or add a journal entry if you get Universal Credit.

If you normally make repayments yourself, for example by a bank standing order, you should contact your bank and start them again.

If you’re struggling to pay your essential living costs and can’t afford your repayments, contact the DWP’s Debt Management contact centre.

DWP - Debt Management contact centre

Telephone: 0800 916 0647

Textphone: 0800 916 0651

Calling from abroad: +44 (0)161 904 1233

Monday to Friday, 8am to 7.30pm

Saturday, 9am to 4pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

There’s a limit to how much they can take if you get:

  • Pension Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance

  • Income Support

The most you’ll be asked to pay back each week is usually £11.10.

If your repayments are because of fraud the most you’ll be asked to pay back each week is £29.60.

If you can't afford the repayments

Call the DWP debt management centre if it will be hard for you to make repayments.

If they agree, you won’t need to pay them back. Even if you do still have to pay them back, they might let you pay in smaller instalments or reduce the total amount that’s repayable.

You should also call if you can’t find your overpayment letter.

DWP debt management contact centre

Telephone: 0800 916 0647

Textphone: 0800 916 0651

Monday to Friday, 8am to 7:30pm

Saturday, 9am to 4pm

Calls to this number are free.

If you need any help, visit your nearest Citizens Advice and ask an adviser to call for you.

If you've been asked to repay a civil penalty

In some cases, you may have to pay a civil penalty for causing an overpayment. This can happen if you give wrong information or don’t mention something, and as a result you get more Pension Credit than you're supposed to be getting.

You can only be asked to pay this penalty if you haven't committed fraud. If you have committed fraud, different rules apply. You can challenge a civil penalty decision by asking for a mandatory reconsideration.

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