There are an estimated 5 million Brits living overseas at
the time of writing, many of these as retirees claiming a UK pension. The
problem that the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK has is figuring out whether
retirees are still legitimately entitled to their pension or not, especially in
cases where countries do not openly share information with others.
It has been estimated that £45 million a year is paid out to
expats who have retired overseas and passed away, yet whose family are still
cashing the pension cheques which should have ceased at the time of death.
In countries where deceased individuals are openly reported
to their country of origin, this is rarely a problem. However in the case of
countries like France who refuse to share information with other countries, it
can be difficult for the DWP to know whether or not the pensions being claimed
are legitimate or not.
In an attempt to cut this unwarranted spending on fraudulent
pension payments, the UK government has introduced a policy requiring
pension-drawing expats to prove that they are still alive.
In essence, any British expat drawing a UK pension is soon
to be sent a form which they must sign to prove they are alive, which must be
witnessed by others. The forms are only available in paper format and will be
sent out to the registered address of these individuals. No electronic versions
are being made available due to concerns over the security of such media.
The fully completed form must then be returned to the UK
government in due time or risk having your pension cut off. Those individuals
who either fail to return their form, or whose form gets lost in the post,
could be in for a nasty surprise as their pension benefits are unceremoniously stopped.
This is not the first time that the British government has
risked ostracizing expat retires; earlier on this year we also reported how
fuel subsidies are to be stopped for expats in some countries, and the
questionable way in which the calculations were actually carried out.
That said, while the form may be a minor annoyance to some
people, those legitimately entitled to a state pension should find they have
little problem continuing to receive their money, and it is an exercise that
can be very beneficial for the UK tax payer, allowing millions of pounds to be
filtered into other projects back home.
Overseas retirees are advised to keep an eye out for such
forms, lest they either get lost en route or the government inadvertently sends
the form to an incorrect address.