Expat pensioners protest against biannual proof of life rule

Published:  13 Dec at 6 PM
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Pensioners rights campaigners are up in arms over last week’s Treasury announcement that UK expat pensioners over 75 years old need to regularly prove they’re still alive or have their pensions stopped.

The controversial new rule is seen as yet another thorn in the side of retirees living abroad, as the time allocated for the form’s receipt, its countersigning by a reliable person and its resending could be impossible to comply with from remote destinations. Pensioners will be forced to notify the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions every two years that they’re still breathing or lose theirpensions.

According to officials, the rule has been introduced to prevent overseas relatives of deceased pensioners from continuing to claim the pension. It’s expected, they say, to save the UK some £45 million over the two years from 2014, although according to pensioner commentators the sum would represent an unlikely minimum of at least 12,000 deaths which have not been reported.

Pensioners living in countries where their state allowance is frozen are even more unhappy, as many are receiving as little as £10 per week ,having emigrated decades ago before living to a ripe old age. Chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners Sheila Telford states that the short timespan involved in returning the declaration of life as well as the cost is a double hit.

The rule will only apply to countries which do not automatically report deaths to the UK authorities, and includes Canada, several southeast Asian states and other far-flung expat havens such as the Philippines. The DWP is already requesting life declarations on a random basis, with one UK expat in Canada having to spend more than her week’s pension in making sure the form arrived within the deadline.
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