Campaigners are urging everyone to check whether family, friends or neighbours are claiming pension credit, as many are confused about what support is available. By helping somebody out, you could transform their life.
More than 2.1 million pensioners live in poverty, official figures show, and Pension Credit is designed to help them.
It is a means-tested benefit that tops up incomes of the poorest retirees to £177.10 a week for single people and £270.30 for couples.
More than a million people, a third of those eligible, could claim on average £1,600 a year in extra income, or around £30.77 a week.
Yet incredibly, £1.8billion sat unclaimed in 2019.
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of charity Independent Age, said Pension Credit could cut severe pensioner poverty in half.
The UK has one of the least generous State Pensions in the developed world, she added. “That’s why Pension Credit is so important.”
Pensions campaigner Baroness Ros Altmann said Pension Credit take-up is lowest of all means-tested benefits. A shocking 40 per cent do not claim.
Many eligible homeowners don’t bother because they wrongly assume they will not get it.
You may still be eligible for small amounts of Pension Credit if you have up to £10,000 in savings, Altmann added.
Even if you can only claim a tiny amount you should do so, as Pension Credit acts as a gateway to up to six retirement benefits worth thousands of pounds a year.
Altmann said: “You could lose out on the £140 Warm Home Discount, additional money for carers, council tax, dental or other health treatments, and even TV licences for over 75s.”
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Pension credit claimants with a disability may get an additional £67.30 a week if they qualify for Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of the Disability Living Allowance care component.
Those claiming Carer’s Allowance could get an extra £37.70 a week.
Successful claimants may also get housing benefit if they rent, or support for mortgage interest if a homeowner.
They may also qualify for council tax reduction, a free TV licence if 75 over, help with NHS dental treatment, glasses, transport cost for hospital appointments and heating costs.
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Stephen Lowe, retirement specialist at Just Group, said that 200,000 are failing to claim Housing Benefit towards their rent, while council tax reduction and Disability Living Allowance all too often go unclaimed.
“The higher bands of Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance are worth £89.60 a week, or £4,659 a year, yet too many over 65s know nothing about them and miss out.”
Lowe said you can find a list of free online state benefits calculators at Gov.uk/benefits-calculators. “Local councils provide information on financial help to pay rent or council tax, while MoneyHelper.org.uk and charities such as Citizens Advice and Age UK are also good sources of assistance.”
You can claim Pension Credit by phone on 0800 99 1234 or online at Gov.uk.Internet Explorer Channel Network