To mark Pension Credit Week of Action (12th- 16th June), national older people’s charity Independent Age is urging everyone in later life who is struggling financially to check if they are eligible for the entitlement.
The cost of living crisis has been causing misery up and down the country, especially for those already living in poverty or on the edge of financial hardship. Many older people have been severely impacted by this period of high costs and can be especially vulnerable to economic downturns as they often have no means of topping up their income. However, there is support available in the form of Pension Credit.
Pension Credit is an entitlement that can boost a single person’s weekly income to £201.05 and a couples to £306.85. If you are disabled or a carer, your weekly income can be topped up further, providing up to an additional £15.94 a week for a single person and £17.84 for a couple.
Alongside topping up income, Pension Credit also acts as a gateway to other benefits such as a free TV licence for over 75s, help with NHS dental care, council tax support, Housing Benefit, free eye tests and much more. Pension Credit recipients will also qualify for the next two government cost of living payments due in the Autumn of 2023 and the Spring of 2024. These together are worth £599.
Fran McSweeney, Head of National Services at Independent Age, said: “Our helpline is still receiving too many calls from frightened older people who have had to make dangerous cutbacks on food and heating. This shouldn’t be happening in modern Britain. If you are in later life and have money worries, I urge you to check your Pension Credit eligibility. The extra income and access to other brilliant benefits could be life changing.”
Thabani Sithole, 73, from Streatham, explains how Pension Credit changed her life.
“Before I started claiming Pension Credit, it was a desperate, desperate time. It was a constant struggle – where to get food from, gas and electric bills going up and paying council tax too. I was comfortable before the pandemic, but my work dried up and my small private pension dwindled, leaving me with just my state pension. My house was very cold so I had to wear extra clothes and cover myself in a blanket. At one point they were even threatening to repossess my home. I think I would have been homeless without Pension Credit, it really changed my life. Now I feel like a normal person with a bright future ahead of me.“
Applying for Pension Credit
To make a claim for Pension Credit, call the claim line on 0800 99 1234, or see other ways to claim at Gov.uk.
You can also claim for Pension Credit online, if you’ve already claimed your State Pension and there are no children or young people included in your claim.
When you claim, you’ll need the following information to hand:
• your National Insurance number
• information about your income, including your pensions
• details of your savings and investments
• your bank account details
If you have a partner, you’ll need the same details for them too.
If you can’t claim by phone or online, ask a relative, Independent Age or a voluntary organisation – such as a local Citizens Advice – to request a paper application form on your behalf. You can also download the form to print out. Call the free Independent Age Helpline on 0800 319 6789 if you need extra support. You can also find out more about Pension Credit on the Independent Age website.