Citizens Advice Column - February/March 22
Older People Not Claiming Vital Pension Credit Entitlements
According to Government research in 2019 only 6 out of 10 older people eligible for Pension Credit - the welfare benefit that tops up the income of pensioners on low incomes - claimed it. This number had barely changed since 2013 and there is no evidence that take-up rates have increased during the pandemic.
Take-up of Pension Credit by those aged under 75 was higher than those aged 75 or over. Older people are not claiming their entitlements and the oldest are the least likely to claim.
Below are some key things you need to know about Pension Credit and how to claim it.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is a weekly benefit for those of State Pension age to top up a low income, and is based on how much money you already have coming in.
If you're over State Pension age, but your partner isn't, you may need to claim Universal Credit instead. Get expert advice on your eligibility.
What is it worth?
If your weekly income is below £177.10 then Pension Credit will top you up to that amount.
If you’re claiming as a couple and your income is below £270.30 it will be topped up to that amount.
Your income can be higher than £177.10 or £270.30 if you qualify for extra amounts such as the severe disability or carer’s addition. Your income can also be higher if you’re paying a mortgage.
Savings over £10,000 will affect the amount of Pension Credit you get.
Who can claim it?
To claim Pension Credit, you must:
- have reached State Pension age - check your State Pension age on GOV.UK
- not have too much income or savings
- live in the UK
You can still be working, as long as your income isn't too high.
How do you claim it?
You can apply online, by phone or by completing a form. Go to www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim for more details or call 0800 99 1234.
Before applying you'll need to gather relevant information. Be ready to provide the following information:
- National Insurance number
- Bank or Building Society details
- Weekly income details (including benefit payments you already receive)
- Savings information
- Housing costs (eg rent or mortgage repayments) information
If you live with a partner you’ll need to give the Pension Service the same information about them.
Pension Credit, like other earnings replacement benefits, can be a ‘passport’ to eligibility to other kinds of financial support; like Council Tax Support or a free TV licence. Even receiving a small amount can make a big difference.
You can start your application up to 4 months before you reach State Pension age.
If you apply after reaching pension age, Pension Credit can be backdated for up to 3 months if you were eligible during that time. This means you'll get up to 3 months of Pension Credit included in your first payment.
Sometimes the Pension Service will need more information to make a decision about your claim. It can sometimes be difficult to gather the extra information. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help.
If you want to know more about Pension Credit and how to claim it, or want practical help to claim it, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/pension-credit/ or call your local Citizens advice on 0800 144 8848.
Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.