The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced another Pension Credit ‘week of action’ will take place between June 12 and 16. This follows on from the success of a similar drive to increase take-up and awareness of the benefit, specifically for pensioners on a low income, which ran last summer and was supported by celebrities including Martin Lewis and the late Len Goodman.
Paying tribute to the contribution made by the former Strictly Come Dancing judge, who passed away at the weekend, Minister for Employment Guy Opperman MP, said: “The Pension Credit video that he filmed with me last summer for the annual Pension Credit Awareness Day in June was the most successful piece of communications that we have ever done on this issue and massively boosted Pension Credit applications.”
Applications for Pension Credit increased by 177 per cent before Christmas last year and Pensions Minister Laura Trott MP told the Commons on Monday that DWP is looking at ways to “make it easier to target people for a claim”.
Ms Trott explained: “I am also looking at what more we can do to use data from Housing Benefit and from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs [HMRC[ to make it easier to target people for a claim.
“Working together, we can make a real difference in the number of Pension Credit claimants in this country.”
Data from the DWP indicates there have been 271,851 Pension Credit applications submitted from April 2022 to March 2023. However, an estimated 800,000 State Pensioners on a low income may be missing out on the weekly benefit boost of up to £201.05 for single pensioners and up to £306.85 for couples - overall, the benefit is worth more than £3,500 each year, on average.
The quickest way to check your entitlement is to phone the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or use the GOV.UK Pension Credit calculator here to find out how much you could get.
Who should check if they might qualify for Pension Credit?
If you are over 65 and reached their State Pension age before April 6, 2016, you could still qualify for Pension Credit if your weekly income is less than:
- £218.80 if you are single
- £319.20 if you are a couple
New Pension Credit claims and £301 cost of living payment
The DWP is also encouraging low-income pensioners not already getting Pension Credit to check their eligibility, as they can still qualify for the £301 cost of living payment if they make an application for Pension Credit application before May 19, 2023, which later turns out to be successful.
This is because Pension Credit is a retrospective benefit that can be backdated by up to three months, taking it to within the qualifying period (January 26 - February 25).
Below is everything you need to know about the benefit to make a claim for yourself, a family member or friend. We also have details on the handy online Pension Credit calculator which can quickly indicate if your claim may be successful and how much you might get.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit currently gives 1.4 million people across the UK extra money to help with living costs if they are over State Pension age and on a low income.
Some older people think because they have savings or own their home they would not be eligible for any Pension Credit, but the DWP said hundreds of thousands could be missing out on the extra money and discounts it provides every month.
Other help if you get Pension Credit
If you qualify for Pension Credit you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax discount
- Free TV licence if you are aged 75 or over
- Help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
- Help with your heating costs through the Warm Home Discount Scheme
- A discount on the Royal Mail redirection service if you are moving house
Mixed aged older couples and Pension Credit
In May 2019, the law changed so that a ‘mixed age couple’ - a couple where one partner is of State Pension age and the other is under it - are considered to be a ‘working age’ couple when checking entitlement to means-tested benefits.
This means they cannot claim Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit until they are both State Pension age. Before this DWP change, a mixed age couple could be eligible to claim the more generous State Pension age benefits when just one of them reached State Pension age.
How to use the Pension Credit calculator
To use the calculator on GOV.UK, you will need details of:
earnings, benefits and pensions
savings and investments
You’ll need the same details for your partner if you have one.
You will be presented by a series of questions with multiple choice answer options.
- Your date of birth
- Your residential status
- Where in the UK you live
- Whether you are registered blind
- Which benefits you currently receive
- How much you receive each week for any benefits you get
- Whether someone is paid Carer’s Allowance to look after you
- How much you get each week from pensions - State Pension, private and work pensions
- Any employment earnings
- Any savings, investments or bonds you have
Once you have answered these questions, a summary screen shows your responses, allowing you to go back and change any answers before submitting. The Pension Credit calculator then displays how much benefit you could receive each week.
All you have to do then is follow the link to the application page to find out exactly what you will get from the DWP, including access to other financial support.
There’s also an option to print off the answers you give using the calculator tool to help you complete the application form quicker without having to look out the same details again. Try the Pension Credit Calculator for yourself or family member to make sure you’re receiving all the financial support you are entitled to claim.
Who cannot use the Pension Credit calculator?
You cannot use the calculator if you or your partner:
are deferring your State Pension
own more than one property
are self employed
have housing costs (such as service charges or Crown Tenant rent) which are neither mortgage repayments nor rent covered by Housing Benefit
How to make a claim
You can start your application up to four months before you reach State Pension age. You can claim any time after you reach State Pension age but your claim can only be backdated for three months.
This means you can get up to three months of Pension Credit in your first payment if you were eligible during that time.
You will need:
your National Insurance number
information about your income, savings and investments
your bank account details, if you’re applying by phone or by post
If you’re backdating your claim, you’ll need details of your income, savings and investments on the date you want your claim to start.
You can use the online service if:
you have already claimed your State Pension
there are no children or young people included in your claim
To check your entitlement, phone the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or use the GOV.UK Pension Credit calculator here to find out how much you could get.
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- Martin Lewis shares simple way people nearing retirement age can boost State Pension by £500 each year