Loophole robs woman of police widow’s pension

Joyce Hadlow was married to a retired policeman, John, for 27 years until he died on June 29. She has been told she is not entitled to a widow's pension because he was already a pensioner when they married.
Joyce Hadlow was married to a retired policeman, John, for 27 years until he died on June 29. She has been told she is not entitled to a widow's pension because he was already a pensioner when they married.
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THE widow of an ex-policeman and former soldier fears she may not be able to keep her home after falling through a pension loophole.

Joyce Hadlow, 83, believes she will not be able to afford the upkeep on her home Bronyon Close, Bury St Edmunds, because she is not entitled to widow’s pension even though she was married to her second husband for 27 years.

Mrs Hadlow married retired policeman John Hadlow in 1984. He became ill and had to have operations in 1995 and was unable to walk from 1996.

“I nursed him for several years until he died on 29th June this year,” she said. “At that time I was hoping for a pension from his police pension because it was going to be hard without his income.

“To my horror I found I was not entitled to any pension because he was already a pensioner when I married him.”

The worry has taken such a toll that Mrs Hadlow ended up in hospital with chest pains she believes were due to the anxiety and stress she has suffered.

“It’s quite hard to cope with all the paperwork,” she said. “I feel it needs publicity because I can’t be the only one who married a retired policeman then finds they have no pension.”

Mr Hadlow served in the Army from 1939 to 1945, including with the fledgling SAS. He then served with what was then the West Suffolk Police Force and was stationed at Barton Mills for many years.

A Suffolk Police spokesman confirmed that national legislation at one time was that a wife who married someone who was already a police pensioner was not entitled to a widow’s pension. The law has since changed, but not retrospectively, so people who married after the change are entitled to the pension.

The Police Federation said entitlements were complex because police pensions had changed twice since the Hadlows married, in 1987 and again in 2006, with more changes proposed by the current Government.

Bury MP David Ruffley has asked Mrs Hadlow to write to him so he can look into her case. He said: “If there are only several hundred people in this position it won’t cost the Home Office much to put right this injustice. I’ll be asking the Home Secretary how many men and women are in this category.”

Suffolk Age UK urged Mrs Hadlow, and any other pensioner in financial difficulty, to get in touch on 01449 674222 for a benefits check to make sure she was getting all she was entitled to. The Pensions Advisory Service at www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk and on 0845 601 2923 can also advise people on pension difficulties.