Experts fear older people will be forced to work longer or raid their savings to pay extra national insurance contributions in order to qualify for the top rate under the complicated new scheme introduced last April.
The warning comes after nearly two-thirds of retiring workers failed to receive the full £155.65 a week because they did not qualify under the new rules.
Just 63,440 of 153,990 retirees received the top rate in the five months after the new system came in last April, official figures show.
George Osbourne introduced changes to the state pension when chancellor of the exchequer
Nearly two-thirds of retiring workers failed to receive the full £155.65 a week
Despite being billed as simpler than the older state pension, experts have slammed the flat-rate system as “still riddled” with the same complexities.
Hardest hit are workers who paid less national insurance to boost a private pension through “contracting out” schemes.
Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann last night hit out at the damning statistics.
She said: “What the Government could and should have done is try to help people understand the process of contracting out, which meant you pay less national insurance in order to build up some of your state pension in a private scheme.
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First of all, nobody knew they were paying less national insurance, and they didn’t realise some of their state pension was included in their private scheme.
“The new state pension was mis-sold to people. If people were expecting the full £155 from the state they might be expecting more than they are going to get.
“There is another problem here because the Government itself doesn’t know what everyone’s entitlement is because some of the private pension providers have not reconciled their records.
“If anybody came from another planet and looked at our state pension system as it was, they would think we’re all completely mad.”
About 400,000 people reach state pension age every year. People who do not have 35 years of national insurance contributions do not qualify for the full pension which rose to £159.55 this month.
About 400,000 people reach state pension age every year
Tom McPhail, of wealth management company Hargreaves Lansdown, said retirees may have to dip into their savings to “fill the gaps” or just keep working.
Richard Parkin, head of pensions policy at the fund manager Fidelity International, said: “For somebody starting work today, the system is pretty straightforward.
The challenge is for people who have worked under the previous system. “It will take time before we get to a position where everybody has the same state pension.
Inevitably, there will be winners and losers.” The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Millions stand to gain from the changes, including women and the self-employed who so often have lost out in the past.”
Seventy-five per cent of claimants would receive more under the new system.