Five women explain how the government’s unilateral pension changes have shattered their life plans and left them facing poverty and insecurity
"I followed my dreams and went to live in Northern Cyprus, where I would still be if I had got my state pension at 60.
I came back and had to look for work. The only possible job was in caring and that was extremely hard both mentally and physically.
Eight years ago I had a serious car accident, which left me needing a new knee and with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in most joints of my body.
I’m single and have no support network, which often leads to desperation and anxiety. I’m finding the work environment today very difficult to cope with — different work ethics to what I’m used to." Sheila Gosnay
"I have COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease].
On bad days I find it very difficult to work — any heavy lifting and I am struggling to breathe.
I was also in a hit-and-run accident a few years ago. As a result of that, I had a broken pelvis and blood clots on my knee.
This means in cold weather I have a lot of back pain and if I have to stand all day at work, my knee swells up.
I only work three days a week but it’s hard going. I can’t afford to not work. I can’t even afford to go on the sick — (though I’d be too afraid of being sanctioned to do that anyway).
I’m not 60 until August but if the SPA hadn’t changed it would have made my life so much more bearable. Instead I have another six years to go." Anon
"I became unemployed at 61. I was then forced to sign on and ended up on the Work Programme at 62.
It was a dehumanising experience. I’ve had to move to a one-bedroom flat because of the bedroom tax and my health is failing fast.
I’m in debt and feel I’ve no future to look forward to. I’ve been the victim of institutional bullying by the DWP and Work Programme provider, Seetec.
I’ve fought back and will continue to do so." Wendy Appleby
"I took early retirement at 55 to live my dream in Spain.
I budgeted to live off my small works pension and savings until SPA [state pension age] at 60.
I found out when I was 58 that SPA age had risen. This meant at 59 I had to look for work.
The only job I could get was a carer as I had let my nurse registration number lapse.
I ended up having to sell my home in Spain at a big loss. Also, I only lasted three weeks in my job at the care home, as I was unable to carry out the physically demanding role.
I’m now living on employment support allowance (ESA). I haven’t got any savings left at all. If I had known about the increase in SPA, then I wouldn’t have taken early retirement until at least 60." Jackie Williams
"I was widowed just before my 59th birthday. In 2012, when I first became aware that SPA would not be at 60, I was self-employed with my husband.
I had to give up the business when he died as it wasn’t possible to continue without him.
I had widow’s pension for 52 weeks, then used savings for another year, as I was suffering with grief-related problems.
In November 2015, I had a mini-stroke, and a more serious one in January this year.
My ESA stopped on March 31, despite my GP having signed me off until June.
I’m now on JSA but unable to find work as I’m suffering from panic attacks and anxiety.
I live alone, have vertigo, tinnitus and am unable to drive since I had the stroke.
I’ve gone from being a hard-working confident person to a wreck, relying on friends every day." Anon