A retired UK teacher’s pension has been stopped after her provider repeatably refused to believe she’s still alive.

The Guardian have reported that 85-year-old Eileen McGrath was forced to endure Christmas with no pension payments after Teachers’ Pensions confused her for someone else, who was dead.

“In November I had received two letters from Teachers’ Pensions asking me euphemistically if I was dead,” she said. “I immediately called to make it clear that I was very much alive. Nevertheless, a week later two more letters arrived asking the same thing, so I wrote back to reiterate that I had still not died,” she told The Guardian.

McGrath said she was “repeatedly asked to prove her existence since 2020 and faces losing her income each time”.

During one of the Covid lockdowns, McGrath was staying with family so missed letters that were checking her circumstances. She only realised there was an issue when she saw her pension hadn’t been paid.

“She had fallen victim to a vetting procedure that regularly checks pension beneficiaries against the death register to prevent ineligible payments.

“According to the Department for Education (DfE), which oversees Teachers’ Pensions, death register entries may be matched to scheme members even if personal details differ,” The Guardian reported.

The DfE told the Guardian once a possible match has been identified, the beneficiary might be asked to confirm they’re not the same deceased stranger every 12 months since the system doesn’t log a disproved link.

After the Guardian questioned the process, the DfE said it would make an exception and decouple McGrath’s name from the deceased’s.

“Fortunately, I have enough money in my savings account to weather these incidents but I am sure that’s not the case for everyone,” McGrath said. “Besides which, it’s unpleasant and distressing to be told periodically that they think you are dead.”

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