The retired academic has been hit with the cut to his finances just as historic inflation decimates disposable incomes across the country. John Nandris, 83, from Bicester in Oxfordshire, said he was shocked when a letter from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) told him £3,000 would be wiped from his yearly pension.
The DWP had discovered Mr Nandris had been overpaid a total of £7,333 between 2008 and 2011.
Up until the pandemic, Mr Nandris had been steadily paying the sum back via £28 deductions each month.
The repayments were suspended in April 2020.
However, when they resumed in March this year, Mr Nandris was hit with a far higher cut than he had been previously.
They had jumped from £28 to £250.
Those who do not pay back the DWP for overpayments risk a visit from debt collectors.
He told the Telegraph: “The DWP is making repeated oppressive demands to reimburse them for what I believe is their incompetence.
“They treat me abruptly and without apology, instead of courteously and with respect.
“Rather than a taxpaying client, to the DWP I am a defaulter.”
He managed to secure a reduction in the repayments from £250 to £30 – but only after repeated calls to the DWP.
The pensioner was horrified by the treatment by the DWP, adding it came at the worst time possible as many cost of living expenses – particularly heating homes, a crucial issue for many pensioners – are shooting up.
He said: “They gave me this large bill at a time of unprecedented anxiety about falling standards of living and universal increases in living expenses.
“I still don’t understand how they ran up so much in overpayments and then dumped it on me.”
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A DWP spokesman said: “When Mr Nandris contacted us in March to query this, a new repayment plan of £30 a month was agreed. We are sorry for any confusion.”
The overpayment occurred as Mr Nandris received “adult dependency increase” on his state pension for his wife, But the DWP determined that her earnings were too high for him to be eligible for the payment.
Mr Nandris said he was not aware of any overpayment at the time.
He said: “It must have gone unobserved by the DWP to accumulate for a considerable period.”
The DWP has faced intense scrutiny over its state pension payments in recent months, with a Freedom of Information request by consultancy LCP uncovering eight separate errors made by the state body.
In one case alone, 134,000 women were underpaid more than £1bn after miscalculations were made on their state pension payments.
Official estimates have put state pension overpayments at £90m a year.