My financial problems started, though I didn’t know it, when I divorced my daughter’s father after 20 years of marriage in around 1990.

I had been paying married women’s NI stamp for 14 years, to finance my daughters education, as we were on an extremely limited budget.I had no private pension being in low paid part time employment, (part time admin in a comprehensive school). Two years after the divorce the then DHSS informed me I wasn’t entitled to continue paying the married women’s rate (even though I had remarried) also collecting two years backdated contributions.

I was also told that the pension accrued through my ex-husbands NI contributions, was automatically wiped when we divorced and it was impossible to make contributions to cover the deficit. This left me with an anticipated half to two thirds state retirement pension. When I elected to pay the married women’s stampI wasn’t told I would lose all accrued state pension if I divorced. Even if I had been I don’t think I could have stayed married for the sake of the pension.

When my daughter reached 17, I gained full time employment as a classroom assistant, and couldn’t afford private pension contributions as I was funding my daughter through university and (after the marriage breakup) putting myself through a teacher training course followed by a BA Hons degree. I had realised that I would have to build up a private pension pot to add to the low state pension provision.

My first post on qualifying as lecturer – head of department – (1999 – 2003) accrued a very small monthly pension. From 2003 – 2012 I have been teaching on the Isle of Man, accruing a government teachers’ pension. Being fit and enjoying my job I planned to work to 70 -an accepted and permitted option on an annual contract renewal basis- to increase my predicted low pension.

I signed my first annual renewal contract in the month of my 65th birthday (2010). It was a disastrous shock to receive, a couple of months later, through open mail, (not marked private and opened by the college mail staff) a letter stating compulsory retirement at 65 would take effect instantly. This letter went to all government employees at almost exactly the same time the UK changed the law to protect the right to work forthose over 65 who chose to continue in employment. The decision was clearly linked to the serious budget situation the government face (older experienced staff being more expensive).

I have received a subsequent apology for the manner in which this news was communicated – i.e. the open letter.

I was able to continue in poston a 6 month extension over the original one year contract as there was no lecturer qualified or with relevant experience to take over my rather specialised role. My enforced retirement took effect two months short of my 67th birthday (December 2012).

My total pensions add up to around £700 a month, so for a very distressing period I and my boss tried various options to gain me at least partial employment to buffer the blow (I couldn’t of course continue to build my pension) so that I could live in a slightly more comfortable manner.

I eventually applied to be added to the supply list as a lecturer for the college and as a support worker in schools. This enabled me to gain several hours work a week at the college (to which I add some voluntary hours) though no supply work has yet materialised within schools.

My financial position is not helped by my daughter, (with two degrees and 20 years research employment) being made redundant and unable to meet the cost of her mortgage and sons’ needs. To assist them in keeping a roof over their heads I have been subbing the mortgage and covering various long term financial contracts.I am also – being on the Isle of Man, in need of additional income (travel costs) to allow me to visit my daughter and grandson as often as possible in holidays, to provide as much childcare support as possible.

In effect, I have been stressed (to a greater or lesser degree) for the last 20 years in trying to make adequate provision for my retirement. I was – because of the shock of being forced to retire – unable to enter in any way in retirement celebrations as most people do, I couldn’t face a ‘party’ when I was facing such an uncertain financial future and most emphatically did not choose retirement. I am now dependant on supply work to bolster my income for as long as possible and ward off the inevitable low income. My total income already being reduced to less than half my full time income. I also face (if I can get work) working well beyond 70 as there is no way of predicting how long any savings I have accrued will have to last.

Posted on March 12th, 2013 by Case Study filed under: Blog