Last year in 2020, over £3.5 billion pounds of pension credit and housing benefit was unclaimed by older people. As many as 4 out of 10 older people are entitled to Pension Credit but don’t claim it.
At a recent meeting at Out in the City an LGBT + social group for older people, our reporter Pauline Smith discussed this with one of the other members, Norman.
She said: “We talked about pensions and benefits and he said how happy he was now to receive pension credit. He explained that it was not about the extra £4 a week he was now getting, but about being entitled to extra benefits like free dental care and free glasses.
“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates that up to one million pensioner households across the UK may be entitled to Pension Credit, but are not claiming the benefit.
“They are now actively promoting how to apply (see the below video).
“Pension Credit can help top-up retirement income, even if someone already receives a pension or has another source of regular payments. Some pensioners think because they have savings or own their home they won’t qualify for the benefit boost, but many are missing out on extra money every month.”
Additional benefits of claiming Pension Credit:
• Free TV licence for over-75s: worth £159 a year
• Council Tax Reduction: potentially worth £1,000 to £2,000 a year
• Warm Homes Discount: worth £140 a year
• Housing Benefit: potentially worth £1,000s a year
• Cold weather payments: potentially worth £25 a week in winter
• Free home insulation and boiler grants: worth £1,000s for some
• Free dental treatment: worth £100s a year for some
• Voucher for glasses/contact lenses: worth £39 – £215 in line with your prescription
Pauline added: “The DWP goal is for health visitors, home helps, daycare centre staff, welfare advisers, GP’s and staff at the surgery, the local pharmacist who prepares their prescriptions, people at the Post Office where they collect their pension, local councils or friends and family to help people check if they could be eligible for Pension Credit.
“To get people started, the DWP guidance states that there are four main questions when considering whether an older person may qualify for Pension Credit:
1. How old are they?
2. If they have a partner, how old is their partner?
3. What is their weekly income? Is it less than £173.75 if they are single or £265.20 if they are a couple?
4. Do they have any savings? Have they got less than £10,000?
The DWP said: “People who have more income or savings than this may still qualify for Pension Credit, but these questions are a good basic indication of who is likely to qualify.”
Applying on behalf of family members:
The guidance adds that if they are over 65 and have reached State Pension age before April 6, 2016, they could still qualify for Pension Credit if their weekly income is less than:
• £208.68 if they are single
• £304.25 if they are a couple
People may have applied for Pension Credit in the past and been told, at the time, they were not eligible, however, a change in their circumstances could now give a different outcome.
Use the online Pension Credit calculator or phone the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 to find out how much you could get.
Pauline added: “My own advice is to make sure that you qualify for the warm home discount scheme for this winter and receive the other benefits through getting Pension Credit – you need to apply as soon as possible. Successful claims are backdated for three months. If you need help in applying then ask family, friends, carers or Age UK or Citizens Advice. People will always help you. Good luck and stay safe.”