PENSIONERS on low incomes could be missing out on a range of discounts and benefits worth around £1,000 by not claiming Pension Credit.
The latest government data shows one million people are claiming Pension Credit but it is an underclaimed benefit.
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.
It tops up your weekly state pension income to £177.10 if you are single and your joint weekly income to £270.30 if you have a partner.
This is known as the Guarantee Credit.
Some older people may qualify for Savings Credit even if they aren't eligible for the guaranteed portion.
It is worth up to £14.04 a week if you are single or £15.71 if you have a partner.
The latest government data released today showed an estimated 1.47million people are claiming Pension Credit in 2021/22.
But Hargreaves Lansdown said around 60% of eligible pensioners fail to claim the benefit, equating to one million people.
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Some people simply don’t know Pension Credit exists while others don’t realise they qualify.
"For instance, you may still qualify for Pension Credit if you own your own home or have some savings.
"With inflation really starting to show its teeth and energy bills on the rise, many pensioners face a real squeeze in income over the coming months and any extra income is welcome.
"Anyone who feels they may qualify for Pension Credit should contact the department for work and pensions.
"Even if you have been refused in the past a change in circumstances may mean you now qualify so it’s worth checking.”
Claiming Pension Credit can also give older people access to a range of other benefits and discounts.
Here is what you or your granny could be missing out on.
Free TV licence – Save £159
Everyone aged 75 and over used to get a free TV licence.
The government stopped funding the free licences for over-75s in 2015, handing the responsibility over to the BBC.
But the BBC last year announced it would also pull the plug on the initiative to save cash.
The rules changed in August and you can now only get the TV licence for free if you are on Pension Credit.
Reduced council tax
Pension Credit claimants may get their council tax bill paid for in full.
The average band D council tax bill in the UK is £1,898 so that could be a big saving but council tax support rules vary depending on where you live so you need to check the rules with your local authority.
Even if you don't get Pension Credit, you may be eligible for some support, particularly if you live alone, are disabled or have caring responsibilities.
To find out what you might get, you need to enter your postcode on the government website.
Prescription costs – £9.35
Claimants on the guarantee element of Pension Credit can get free presciptions.
A prescription costs £9.35 in England so you could get a lot of savings if you have conditions that require a lot of medication.
Pension Credit claimants may also be able to get dental treatment, glasses and free transport costs for hospital appointments.
Cold weather payments – £25 per week
People on Pension Credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or Universal Credit can get £25 a week to help with energy bills through the cold weather payment scheme.
It is paid each time the average temperature in your area is zero degrees Celsius or below over the space of a week between November and March.
How to apply for pension credit
YOU can start a pension credit 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.
To claim, 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 apply online via Gov.uk if you've already claimed your state pension or you're not responsible for children.
If not, you can apply by calling 0800 99 1234 or by printing out, completing and posting this online form.
You don't need to apply for cold weather payments.
Instead, the payments should be made automatically into your bank or building society account within 14 days of the cold spell ending.
You can can check if your area has had a cold weather payment by entering your postcode into the government's online tool.
Warm home discount scheme – £140
Pension Credit claimants can get £140 off their heating bills during the winter under the warm home discount scheme.
Rather than money being paid to you, the £140 goes towards reducing your heating costs between October and March when it is colder outside and you are likely to use more gas and electricity.
The discount is only available if your supplier has chosen to offer it.
You can check which other suppliers are part of the scheme on the Gov.uk website.
You can get help from the government paying your rent or mortgage if you're on the guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
Tenants could get their full rent paid through Housing Benefit and homeowners could get help with their mortgage interest.
You can either apply:
- through your local council
- as part of a Pension Credit claim, if you’re eligible for this.
Budgeting loans – up to £812
You might be able to get a budgeting loan to help cover your living expenses.
These payments are worth between £100 and £812 and can be used to pay for essential items such ashome improvements or security, funeral costs or clothes and furniture or white goods.
The maximum amount you can get depends on your circumstances:
- £348 if you’re single
- £464 if you’re part of a couple
- £812 if you have children
You have to repay what you borrow within 104 weeks. It is usually deducted from your benefit payments until the loan is paid off.
You can online or using the paper form, but it's quickest via the government website.
Here are 12 pensioner perks that you could be missing out on.
Earlier this year it emerged that around 200,000 women had been undepaid their state pension for years and could be in line for an average payout of £13,500.
Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert also recently that warned millions of retirees are missing out on £3,000 a year in lost pension credit.
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