Wives or partners of those who have served abroad in the armed forces may be missing out on pension payments worth thousands of pounds.
Last year the government launched a scheme to offer National Insurance Credits to 20,000 military spouses.
But following a Freedom of Information Request, insurance firm Royal London discovered that fewer than 4,000 people have applied for it so far.
The payments could be worth up to £30,000 over the course of retirement.
“This is a very good scheme to recognise the service of military wives over the years, but the take-up so far has been very poor,” said Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London.
“Women should not be suffering in retirement for their loyal service alongside their husbands overseas.”
However spouses are not granted the National Insurance Credits (NICs) automatically. They have to apply.
Mr Webb said the government should actively identify those eligible, and make sure they get the credits they are entitled to.
How the scheme works
NICs are given to people to make up gaps in their employment record, when they are unable to work.
Women taking time off to have children are typical beneficiaries.
Such credits are important, as only those who have 35 years of NI payments qualify for the full State Pension.
The NIC for military personnel allows:
- claims back to 1975
- claims from widows and divorcees
- claims from spouses born since April 1953