Dena Hunt, 60, was checking her state pension forecast online in order to work out how much she could get, when she realised she wouldn’t be able to retire for years longer than she’d expected. Aged 58 at the time, she had been working full-time as a networks administrator, and had thought she only had two more years left until she could claim the state pension. She recalls the moment, and says: “I was looking forward to finishing work and spending time with my family but clearly that wasn’t going to happen if I couldn’t have my state pension.” Dena, from Leeds, will now reach state pension age at the age of 66.

To make up the six-year deficit she found herself facing when it came to her retirement funds, Dena explains her only option was to continue working.

“I left [my full-time job] one year before I was 60, so 59, because I didn’t feel I could continue,” she explains.

“It was fairly stressful work and I was tired and the travelling and everything.”

For health reasons, Dena made the decision to downsize her property, and instead work part-time.

“I decided to take my own decision and not have the decision forced upon me, to make my life better. To have some down-time.”

Now, Dena works part-time as a sales assistant throughout the week and on weekends, in a job which pays minimum wage.

“This is how it is for 50s born women,” she says. “61 this year and like thousands of others I am unable to be there for my children, help them with childcare, look after elderly relatives, volunteer, relax. For the next six years.”

While raising her two children, Dena previously cashed in her workplace pensions in order to cover the cost of living, trusting that she would be able to claim the state pension at the age of 60.

She explains she has no savings or property to sell, and adds: “I have literally enough savings from pensions to pay for a funeral and that’s literally everything I have.”

But Dena says she considers herself fortunate.

“So many are ill, so many using food banks, so many losing their homes – and these women have paid in for 40 plus years.

“Where is the justice in that? Where is the respect?”

Just weeks ago, Dena tied the knot with her husband, who has chosen not to be named.

But amid the celebrations, the newlywed bride highlighted the changes to the state pension age for women, adorning a WASPI sash and badge.

“It just seemed an opportunity too good to miss just to be wearing the sash and the badge and just to keep it fresh in people’s minds,” she says of her decision.

“I was proud, proud to wear the sash.”

The WASPI group supports the principle of equalisation of the state pension age, but disagrees with how the changes were implemented.

“Myself and WASPI women are not against age equality,” Dena reiterates.

“What we’re complaining about is the sudden way in which the changes have been accelerated, you know from 60 one minute to 66 the next minute, and it’s the six whole years of having to make up the deficit.

“It’s the way they went about introducing it that we’re up in arms about.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson has said: “The government decided more than 20 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality, and this has been clearly communicated.

“People are living longer so we need to raise the age at which all of us can draw a State Pension so it is sustainable now and for future generations.”

Read more from Retirement and me: 

Retirement and me is a weekly series which looks at how people are spending their time and money later in life. If you’d like to share how you spend and save, get in touch by emailing personal.finance@reachplc.com.

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