Independent Age, the older people’s charity, is calling on people of State Pension age and over to apply for Pension Credit, as government figures suggest two in every five people who are eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming it.
This suggests that at least 1.3 million pensioners might not be receiving the benefits they are entitled to. Pension Credit is a weekly benefit that helps ensure people of State Pension age and over have sufficient money to live on. Independent Age has launched a free advice guide called Pension Credit: Extra money to boost your retirement income that provides practical information on what Pension Credit is, who is eligible, how much you could receive, how to claim it and the additional help you could get by claiming it.
The reasons why people don’t take up benefits include a lack of awareness of the benefit, lack of awareness of entitlement, and the stigma of receiving a benefit. Independent Age is urging people to apply for Pension Credit as they may be eligible even if they don’t think they are. Although it is means tested, you may still qualify for it even if you have savings or own your home. The charity is also encouraging people to apply for Pension Credit even if they will only receive a few extra pounds a week, as there are many extra entitlements that come with claiming it. These include free NHS dental treatment and check-ups, free sight tests, vouchers for glasses and contact lenses, help with travel costs to and from hospital and Cold Weather Payments.
Independent Age is releasing the new guide alongside two other new, free advice guides about Attendance Allowance and Council Tax. Attendance Allowance can provide older people with a disability or long-term health condition with additional weekly income. Three in four Attendance Allowance applications are accepted on the first time of applying, so it is well worth considering.
Graham, 81, told Independent Age, ‘‘I am a full-time carer for my wife who is paralysed down her right-hand side. I gave up my work in marketing to look after her and bring up our three children, because of a lack of other support. Now, as pensioners, Guarantee Pension Credit is a lifeline to us and tops up our State Pensions. We don’t have any private pensions and couldn’t manage without it. I feel strongly that people should find out if they are entitled to it. Some people might think of it as charity but it’s not. It’s a vital part of our State Pension system. I would urge everyone to see if they are entitled to Guarantee Pension Credit. It brings other excellent benefits with it, such as free dental treatment, vouchers for glasses, the Cold Weather Payment, Council Tax Support and full Housing Benefit. Just claiming it can open all these doors.’’
Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, says, “There are many reasons why people don’t seek financial help during retirement, but it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. With pensioner poverty currently affecting more than a million older people, claiming Pension Credit can help to alleviate financial strains by boosting weekly income.
“Our new advice guides aim to demystify the financial support available and explain how to claim it. We want to encourage everyone of state pension age to check their eligibility, even if they don’t think they need any additional support.”
The charity is also highlighting that Pension Credit is changing for mixed-age couples on the 15th May 2019. Those in a relationship where one partner is over State Pension age should check to see if they qualify for Pension Credit now, so they don’t miss out on extra money.
The Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and Council Tax guides are free to order and download from independentage.org/information/publications or can be ordered for free by calling 0800 319 6789.
Independent Age has an online benefits calculator here: independentage.org/benefit-calculator, so older people can check their eligibility. Those who would prefer to speak to someone or require additional support can call the Independent Age Helpline on 0800 319 6789 to arrange to speak to a specialist adviser.