Searching for NINO

3 Feb

Last September, I was asked by my solicitor to supply him with information concerning my late mothers estate. He required a copy of her 1. death certificate 2. her National Insurance Number (NINO) and 3. the value of the estate she left behind.
To obtain item 1 was easy. I just had to write to the Registrar Office and enclose a cheque for £10 and within several weeks, I received a copy.
To obtain item 3 would not be a challenge and I assume it would be easy. All I need to do is contact an Estate Agent.

But to obtain item 2? The NINO has been very stressful.

First of all I telephoned the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). I spoke to one of the Advisors and explained the situation. She advised that I submit a copy of my mothers’ death certificate and request her NINO. It shouldn’t be a problem, she added. I clarified the postal address. She reiterated it would not be a problem. So I wrote a letter and addressed it to the DWP. I waited 2 weeks. I waited 4 weeks. Eventually, after waiting 8 weeks, I telephoned the DWP and explained that I had spoke to an Advisor back in Septemeber, I had written a letter and had not received response.

“Can I take your details please?” asked the Advisor. So I provided my own personal details again, including the date of birth and death of my mother, her home address and and the reason why I needed her NINO. “Sorry, but we don’t have any details or information on our database that we’ve received any correspondence. Can you send it out again and ensure that it’s posted by recorded delivery?” I was exasperated and agreed to send a written request out again. It cost me about £3 but I thought it was worth it. I waited patiently for the relevant documents and NINO to arrive. I waited and waited.

Christmas came and went. Then the New Year arrived and a couple of days later, I telephoned the DWP once more.
I found myself repeating all that I had said on the previous occasions.
“I would like my late mothers National Insurance number please…”
“I’m sorry but who is the deceased again?”
“My mother”
“And how are you related?”
“I’m not being funny”, I said “but if she is my mother, what does that make me!?”
The Advisor took a moment to consider and said “the son!? Yes, of course you are! I’m sorry but you’ve written to the wrong department. You need to write to Her Majestys Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as we dont’t deal with National Insurance Numbers!”
By this time, I was exasperated and asked for the appropriate address and telephone number. She duly obliged, and we ended the call.

I phoned HMRC.
The first words that were spoken by a deep male voice was “We don’t give out National Insurance Numbers!”
What a way to greet someone, I thought. Whatever happened to “Hello/Good Afternoon.  How can I help you?”

I had to jump in quick with “Can you allow me to explain myself first…” and then provided background information as to how and why I had to contact the HMRC. Then, when all was said and done, he placed me on hold, and put me through to one of their internal departments.  I spoke  briefly to another advisor, who, in turn, asked me to hold and put me through to yet another advisor. By this time, I really was a broken record.

Eventually, this particular Advisor sounded empathetic and explained to me that  due to my postcode being different to my mothers home address, information passed on would be difficult to ascertain and due to data protection, the NINO could not be divulged over the phone and could I write in? I didn’t want to argue. so I acquiesced and said my request will be in the post as advised. “You need to address it to the Individual Case Worker Section”, he said and assured me that it would be dealt with promptly.

Three weeks later, as I still hadn’t heard anything, I called again. After being placed on hold several times and having to listen to irritating background muzak, I was handed over to a named person who said he would look into my case and would phone me back within 10 minutes. He did this and then suggested that I write or fax him details again. Even then, he conceded that I may not be able to have my mothers’ NINO as I was not her legal representative nor did I represent her estate.

I explained that I knew that if I had access to her pension book, bank accounts or correspondence from the Council e.g. Council Tax bill, Care fees etc then I would be able to find her NINO. I would not be calling HMRC for nothing and was looking for information as requested by my solicitor.

Once again he asked me to address the letter to his office and he would personally deal with my request. All I had to do was await the written outcome!

I didn’t think it would be so difficult to obtain a vital piece of personal information albeit not mine but my mums and for a very legitimate reason.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems or issues?

The Learned Kat


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