‘Too many pensioners are excluded’ pressure on DWP as one million miss out on extra cash

Pension Credit: Guy Opperman discusses ongoing scheme

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The Government estimated that around £1.7billion of Pension Credit is unclaimed. Pension Credit is a benefit for people over State Pension age on lower incomes and is designed to provide extra support and supplement pensioners’ income. The amount that can be received through Pension Credit depends on which of the two parts one is eligible for.

The two parts of Pension Credit are Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. Guarantee Credit tops up one’s weekly income to £177.10 for single pensioners and £270.30 for those who are married or in a civil partnership. Savings Credit could provide single retirees up to £14.04 extra per week, or £15.71 for couples.

People who are disabled, have caring responsibilities or are responsible for paying housing costs such as mortgage interest payments may be entitled to a higher amount of Pension Credit.

Whether one is eligible to receive Guarantee Credit or Savings Credit depends on when they reached state pension age. People who reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 qualify for Savings Credit, whereas those who reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, can get Guarantee Credit.

When determining the amount of Savings Credit that can be received, the savings and income one already has will be taken into account. Any money taken out of pension pots and any money left in the pension pot owned by the person over state pension age will be one factor.

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Alternatively, if one’s pension pot has not been touched, the income allowed to be received from Savings Credit will depend on a calculation of how much one would get if they had swapped their pension for an annuity.

Other assets such as savings and investments might also count towards the benefit assessment.

One of the benefits of Pension Credit is that pensioners can claim it regardless of whether they are still working or have retired. It is worth pensioners finding out whether they are entitled to Pension Credit, as even if they are only able to claim a minor amount, it could boost their income.

One can apply up to four months before they want to start receiving Pension Credit, and can claim any time after they reach State Pension age. However, a claim can only be backdated for three months. Those who are over 75 and claiming Pension Credit have an added bonus, as they can also claim a free TV Licence.

Changes to the scheme in 2019 mean there are some restrictions on couples applying for Pension Credit. Those who are married or in a civil partnership only qualify to make a new claim if both parties have reached state pension age or one party has reached state pension age and is claiming Housing Benefit for the couple.

However, if one is not entitled to Pension Credit, they can apply for Universal credit instead.

Henry Tapper, chair of Pension Playpen, says more needs to be done to make those of state pension age aware of Pension Credit.

He told Express.co.uk: “Not enough is being done.

“Despite the best efforts of Age UK and others, take up of Universal Credit remains far too low.

“This should be an immediate priority for Guy Opperman who is Minister for both pensions and financial inclusion.

“Too many pensioners are excluded from their rightful benefits.”

Express.co.uk contacted the DWP for comment.

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