Pensioners and their families have been urged to check if they can claim an extra benefit which will make them eligible to get a £301 cost of living payment as well as give them extra cash every week.
It is thought that hundreds of thousands of households are not claiming pension credit, which is a benefit for retired people on low incomes. As well as being worth on average £3,500 every year, it also allows you to access a whole raft of other benefits, including council tax discounts, warm home discounts and free TV licences.
And there are just ten days to go for people to claim pension credit and still qualify for the latest £301 payment, which they will receive direct into their bank accounts as long as they make a successful claim by May 19. Pensioners can check their eligibility and get an estimate of what they may receive by using the online pension credit calculator
Provided a claim is made before 19 May, it can be backdated for up to three months so long as the applicant was also eligible to receive it during that time.
Last year, MPs put pressure on the Government to improve their strategy for boosting pension credit uptake, amid fears that hundreds of thousands of the poorest pensioner are missing out on the benefit each year. Pension credit works by topping up weekly incomes to a minimum of £201.05 per week for single people and £306.85 for couples in 2023/24. More than three million households are eligible, but only around half claim – in many cases because they don’t realise they could be entitled to it.
Age UK is encouraging all elderly people who are worried about paying their bills to check their eligibility and apply for pension credit and stressed that having savings, a private pension or owning a home are not necessarily barriers to receiving the payment- contrary to what many might think.
Pension credit has two parts. The main part is ‘guarantee credit’ and this is a low income top-up. The second part is ‘savings credit’, which is a bonus for low-income pensioners who have put aside money towards their pension income. You can qualify for one without the other.
- Guarantee credit: This is the main part of pension credit, topping up your weekly income to £201.05 per week for single people and £306.85 for couples in 2023/24
- Savings credit: Savings Credit is extra money if you’ve got some savings or if your income is higher than the basic State Pension. It’s available to people who reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016. In 2023/24, you could get up to £15.94 extra per week if you’re single or £17.84 extra per week if you’re a couple.
Even if you find out you’re only entitled to a small amount of pension credit, it’s still worth claiming as it means you can qualify for other benefits. These include:
- Cash to help with energy bill rises: To qualify for the second cost of living payment you should make your claim before the 19 December 2022, and request on your application for it to be backdated – however, the DWP recommend applying asap.
- Free TV licence for over-75s: Over-75s needed to start paying for their TV licences after August 2020, but those on pension credit can claim them for free.
- Council tax reduction: If you get the guarantee credit part of pension credit, you’re entitled to the maximum council tax deduction.
- Warm home discount: The warm home discount of £150 is a credit on your energy bill, given to people on low incomes. If you get any amount of guarantee credit you are entitled to the rebate, but you need to be signed up with a supplier who is part of the scheme. Find out more here.
- Housing benefit: If you rent your home and receive any amount of guarantee credit, you are eligible for the maximum housing benefit entitlement from your local authority.
- Cold weather payments: This £25 benefit is awarded for each continuous seven-day period of very cold weather (0°C or below) between 1 November and 31 March. If you’re eligible, the money will be paid automatically into the same bank or building society account as your pension credit payments.
- Free home insulation and boiler grants: Pension credit claimants may be able to get free cavity wall and loft insulation from their energy provider. And if your boiler is broken, you may be able to get a grant for a new one from an energy provider .
- Free dental treatment: If you get any amount of guarantee credit, you’re entitled to free NHS dental care.
- Voucher for glasses/contact lenses : If you get any amount of guarantee credit, you are entitled to a voucher for glasses/contact lenses.
Minister for Pensions Laura Trott said: “Pension credit can make a real difference and I am determined to make sure this support – worth an average of £3,500 a year – is reaching everyone who needs it, particularly as we know how much pressure households across the country have been under. Please check if you or your loved ones can claim for this extra support, and if you do it by 19 May you could qualify for the £301 cost of living payment – giving another financial boost to those who need it most.”
As well ads the £301 to eligible pensioners, a £300 pensioner cost of living payment will be made again during the winter as a top-up to the Winter Fuel Payments. So If you were entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for Winter 2023 to 2024, you will get the extra cash paid with your normal payment. The full amount of Winter Fuel Payment – including the pensioner cost of living payment – you will get for winter 2023 to 2024 depends on when you were born and your circumstances during the qualifying dates, but you should qualify if you were born before September 24, 1957.
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