Pensioners urged to check benefits as 1million still miss out on pension credit, free TV licences and council tax help
A MILLION pensioners are missing out on thousands of pounds a month in unclaimed benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions is urging retirees to claim Pension Credit and raising awareness of all the extra benefits and discounts you can get when you do.
Pension Credit opens the gates to lots of help including council tax bill reduction, free TV licences for the over-75s and even reduced costs for heating your home.
At a recent Parliamentary hearing, Secretary of State Dr Therese Coffey said that a quarter of people who are eligible for Pension Credit haven't applied.
On top of that, half the people who could get Pension Saving Credit haven't signed up – meaning they're also missing out.
She added that even if someone applies and only receives 2p each week – it's still well worth doing because it makes you eligible for other benefits which can save you significant amounts of money.
The full list of benefits you could get by putting in your Pension Credit application include:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Ground rent if your property is a leasehold and some service charges
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax Reductions
- A free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- Help with NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, glasses and free transport costs for hospital appointments
- Help with your heating costs including cold weather payments.
Here's everything you need to know about claiming:
What is pension credit
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over the State Pension age and on a low income.
Typically, it is worth around £3,000 a year on average, and you can get extra help if you're a carer, disabled, or responsible for a child.
You can also get help with other day-to-day expenses such as council tax, your TV license and even housing costs.
You can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.
Who is eligible for Pension Credit and how much do you get?
There are two parts to Pension Credit benefits, the first is Pension Credit and the second is Pensions Savings Credit.
Whether you're allowed Pension Credit depends on your income, including your partner's if you live with them.
If you are eligible, then the government will top up your income to a minimum weekly amount, which varies depending on whether you're single or in a couple.
The minimum amounts are:
- £177.10 if you’re single
- £270.30 if you have a partner
If your income is lower than this, you should be eligible for the benefit.
But even if your income is higher than the minimum weekly amount, you might still be eligible for Pension Credit if you have a disability, you care for someone, you have savings or you have housing costs.
You could get the ‘Savings Credit’ part of Pension Credit if both of the following apply:
- you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016
- you saved some money for retirement, for example a personal or workplace pension
You’ll get up to £14.04 Savings Credit a week if you’re single. If you have a partner, you’ll get up to £15.71 a week.
You might still get some Savings Credit even if you do not get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.
What extra top ups are available?
If you are disabled, a carer or look after a young person, you should get extra Pension Credit payments.
You could get an extra £67.30 a week if you get Attendance Allowance, the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
If you care for another adult, you could get an extra £37.70 a week. For instance, if you claim Carer’s Allowance or you’ve claimed Carer’s Allowance but are not being paid because you already get another benefit paying a higher amount.
You could get an extra £54.60 a week for each child or young person you’re responsible for. This increases to £65.10 a week for the first child if they were born before 6 April 2017.
The child or young person must normally live with you and be under the age of 20.
If the child or young person is disabled, you could also get an extra amount of either £29.66 a week if they get DLA or PIP, or £92.54 a week if they’re blind or they get the highest rate care component of DLA, or the enhanced daily living component of PIP.
If you have £10,000 or less in savings and investments this won't affect your Pension Credit entitlement.
If you have more than £10,000, every £500 over £10,000 counts as £1 worth of income a week. For example, if you have £11,000 in savings, this is counted as £2 in extra income each week.
How is income calculated?
Your income figures are calculated based on:
- your state pension,
- any other private or workplace pensions
- Earnings from employment or self-employment
- Social security benefits such as Carer's Allowance
If you have deferred your state pension or private pensions, they still count towards income, and DWP will calculate based on what you would have earnt if you were claiming.
Not all benefits are included as income. For instance DWP doesn't count any money you get from:
- Attendance Allowance
- Christmas Bonus
- Child Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- social fund payments like Winter Fuel Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Reduction
How to apply for pension credit
You can start your application up to four months before you reach state pension age.
If you've already passed your state pension age, you can still apply but you can only backdate the claim by three months.
To claim you'll need your:
- National Insurance number
- information about any income, savings and investments you have
- information about your income, savings and investments on the date you want to backdate your application to (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached State Pension age).
You'll also need your bank details to hand.
You can apply using the online service if you've already claimed your state pension and there are no children in the application.
Otherwise you'll have to use the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 or apply by post by printing out and filling in the Pension Credit claim form.
You'll need to post the form to:
The Pension Service 8
Post Handling Site B
You can get help from charity organisations such as Citizens Advice or Age UK if you're struggling with the form.
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