Time running out for extra pension credit cost of living help - here's how you can apply

Older people on a low income have until December 18 to put in a claim for pension credit in order to qualify for the second part of the government’s cost-of-living payment. Credit: PA Images

Pensioners on low incomes are being urged to see if they qualify for pension credit, which could help them to access other cost-of-living support as well as topping up their regular income.

They have until December 18 to put in a claim for pension credit in order to qualify for the second part of the government’s cost-of-living payment, which is a £324 lump sum.

Announced as part of its original energy support package in May 2022, the government’s cost-of-living payment will be paid to those in receipt of pension credit and other qualifying benefits.

What is pension credit?

Pension credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over state pension age and on a low income. Pension credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.

You can get pension credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.

It tops up a person’s income to a minimum of £182.60 per week for single pensioners and to £278.70 for couples.

How much is pension credit worth?

The average pension credit award is worth over £3,500 a year, and even a small pension credit award can provide access to a wide range of other benefits – such as help with housing costs, council tax or heating bills – in addition to the extra cost of living payments.

What do I have to do to register for pension credit?

To make a claim for pension credit, people should call the Department for Work and Pensions' pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234, or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "We know that around 770,000 pensioner households are still missing out on pension credit and it’s likely that every one of them is struggling to manage their escalating bills at the moment."

You must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached State Pension age to qualify for pension credit. You do not need to be in receipt of State Pension to receive it.

For information on applying if you live in Northern Ireland visit NI Direct here.

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.

For full eligibility details, check the government website here.

How do I qualify for the extra pension credit?

To be eligible for the second lump sum, older people must have been entitled to a pension credit payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) in the period between August 26 and September 25 2022.

Because an application for pension credit can be backdated by three months, those who start the claiming process by Sunday December 18 and are successful can meet the eligibility criteria for the extra £324.

Charity Age UK says a third (34%) of pensioners eligible to claim pension credit are still missing out.

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