Facing retirement of counting the pennies

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
After 26 years as a teacher, 64-year-old Elizabeth Miller has a pension of pound;230 per month.

"It's awful. I can't do anything. I don't have money for clothes or holidays and I can't afford to do any of the things I enjoy," says Mrs Miller, who lives in London.

"I am just counting the pennies and surviving from day to day, not living life to the full, as you're supposed to when you retire."

She has a tiny pension partly because, after 10 years as a full-time modern languages teacher at a girls' secondary, she took a 13-year break to bring up her family.

When she returned to work as a part-time adult education tutor, Mrs Miller was not allowed to ontribute to a pension for 14 years as she was paid hourly.

From 1995, the rules governing part-timers were changed, but Lambeth, Mrs Miller's employer, failed to keep proper records of her pension contributions. Fortunately, her union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, stepped in and forced Lambeth to provide the correct documentation.

Mrs Miller worked until 62 in an attempt to boost her pension. Following a High Court ruling that part-timers were entitled to back date their pension claims to April 1976, she is now waiting to hear if she will receive compensation for the 14 years when she was not eligible to make pension contributions.

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