850,000 missing out on £3,300 Pension Credit benefits a year - how to claim if you're one of them

ITV News Consumer Affairs Editor Chris Choi speaks to the experts for their top tips

Around 850,000 pensioners could be be missing out on an extra £3,300 a year as £1.7 billion of Pension Credit benefits remain unclaimed.

While more than 1.4 million pensioners are receiving Pension Credit, but around 850,000 are not claiming this extra financial help that can also be a gateway to other benefits.

The benefits include help with housing costs, council tax or heating bills and for those over 75, this includes continued entitlement to a free TV licence.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), an estimated £1.7 billion in the benefit is being left unclaimed.

The DWP said it will be providing leaflets for local communities, while businesses can also spread the word to their customers.

State pension recipients will continue to receive reminders about Pension Credit in the post.

What is Pension Credit?

Pension Credit is designed to help with daily living costs for people over state pension age and on a low income.

It tops up:

  • your weekly income to £182.60 if you’re single

  • your joint weekly income to £278.70 if you have a partner

If your income is higher, you might still be eligible for Pension Credit if you have a disability, you care for someone, you have savings or you have housing costs.

Who is eligible for Pension Credit?

You are eligible if you have reached state pension age and if your weekly income is less than £182.60 if you’re single, or £278.70 if you’re a couple.What counts towards your income?

Your income is made up of:

  • State Pension

  • other pensions

  • earnings from employment and self-employment

  • most social security benefits, for example Carer's Allowance

What does not count towards your income?

Not all benefits are counted as income. For example, the following are not counted:

  • Attendance Allowance

  • Christmas Bonus

  • Child Benefit

  • Disability Living Allowance

  • Personal Independence Payment

  • social fund payments like Winter Fuel Payment

  • Housing Benefit

How do I claim it?

It can be claimed by phone and online. An online Pension Credit calculator can help pensioners check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive.

People can go to gov.uk/pension-credit or call 0800 99 1234  (textphone 0800 169 0133) for more information.

It can be helpful to have the following details to hand before you get started:

  • your National Insurance number

  • your bank account details

  • information about your income, savings and investments

  • information about your pension (if you have one)

  • details of any housing costs you have (such as a mortgage, interest payments or service charges)

  • your partner’s details, if you have a partner.

What are the other benefits to claiming Pension Credit?

If you get 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

  • a free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over

  • help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments

  • help with your heating costs, eg. Cold Weather Payment during cold spells.

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Amidst the cost-of-living crisis, it’s a national tragedy that getting on for a million pensioners are missing out on a major income boost.

“My simple rule of thumb is if you (or someone you know) are aged 66 or older, and have total income of under roughly £200 a week, get online or call the Pension Credit claim line to see if you’re due a payment that can be as much as £3,300 a year.

“I’m not saying everyone will get it, but many will, and it only takes a few minutes to find out. So don’t stall, just call.

“And not only is this serious money, it’s also often a gateway entitlement that means you’re due a range of other support, such as council tax reductions, the £650 extra energy funding help, warm home discount, housing benefit, dental and optical treatments and, for the over-75s, a free TV licence.”

People can contact Age UK for support to check their full entitlements and see if they’re one of the many who are missing out.

Contact Age UK’s Advice Line on freephone 0800 169 65 65, contact your local Age UK office or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.

People can also contact Independent Age for advice around pensions, tax, benefits and for help in choosing the best way to pay for their individual care needs.

Independent Age's helpline can be reached on 0800 319 6789 and their website is https://www.independentage.org/.

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