DWP urges thousands of Brits to check if they qualify for £1,900 pension top-up

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is encouraging people to check their State Pension eligibility amid reports that as many as 850,000 Brits are missing out on financial support. The benefit is worth, on average, around £1,900 a year.

The DWP’s is holding a ‘day of action’ on Wednesday, June 15 to highlight the issue. The additional funds could help older people struggling with the cost of living crisis as essentials such as fuel and food rise in cost.

Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £15 billion package of additional financial support to help people manage increasing energy bills and soaring inflation. This includes a one-off payment of £300 for over 8 million pensioner households in the UK.

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All pensioner households in receipt of the Winter Fuel Payment will receive the £300 payment in November or December, reports The Daily Record. Sunak also announced a £650 one-off payment for people on means-tested benefits, which includes Pension Credit, to be paid in two instalments for eligible households in July and the autumn.

This means older people who are currently receiving Pension Credit, or have started a claim which is later successful, as of Wednesday May 25, 2022, will also receive £650. If they have not yet made a claim for Pension Credit, and do it now, they may qualify for the second instalment as the next qualifying period has still to be confirmed.

The UK Government said: “HMRC and DWP are due to release further guidance and the UK Government will set out the eligibility date for the second instalment, in due course.”

It’s also worth noting people of any age in receipt of one of the qualifying disability benefits such as Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, will also receive a payment of £150 in September.

But let’s get back to Pension Credit – a ‘gateway’ benefit which can unlock additional financial support for Council Tax, Housing Benefit, hearing bills and a free TV Licence for the over 75s.

In April, the DWP said up to £1.7 billion of available Pension Credit went unclaimed – on average, this amounts to around £1,900 per year, but factoring in the additional discounts or reductions, it can be worth up to £3,300 annually.

Pension Credit gives people extra money to help with living costs if they are over State Pension age and on a low income.

Some older people think because they have savings or own their home they would not be eligible for any Pension Credit, but the DWP said more than 850,000 could be missing out on the extra money and discounts it provides every month.

More than 1.4 million people over State Pension age across the UK are currently receiving the benefit, including some 129,671 living in Scotland.

Other help if you get 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 Council Tax discount
  • A free TV licence if you are aged 75 or over
  • Help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
  • Help with your heating costs through the Warm Home Discount Scheme
  • A discount on the Royal Mail redirection service if you are moving house

One of the quickest ways to find out if you are eligible, and how much extra you could potentially be paid every week, is to use the Pension Credit calculator on the GOV.UK website.

Mixed aged older couples and Pension Credit

In May 2019, the law changed so that a ‘mixed age couple’ – a couple where one partner is of State Pension age and the other is under it – are considered to be a ‘working age’ couple when checking entitlement to means-tested benefits.

This means they cannot claim Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit until they are both State Pension age. Before this DWP change, a mixed age couple could be eligible to claim the more generous State Pension age benefits when just one of them reached State Pension age.

How to use the Pension Credit calculator

To use the calculator, you will need details of:

  • earnings, benefits and pensions

  • savings and investments

You’ll need the same details for your partner if you have one.

Who cannot use the Pension Credit calculator?

You cannot use the calculator if you or your partner:

  • are deferring your State Pension

  • own more than one property

  • are self employed

  • have housing costs (such as service charges or Crown Tenant rent) which are neither mortgage repayments nor rent covered by Housing Benefit

How to make a claim

You can start your application up to four months before you reach State Pension age. You can claim any time after you reach State Pension age but your claim can only be backdated for three months.

This means you can get up to three months of Pension Credit in your first payment if you were eligible during that time.

You will need:

  • your National Insurance number

  • information about your income, savings and investments

  • your bank account details, if you’re applying by phone or by post

If you’re backdating your claim, you’ll need details of your income, savings and investments on the date you want your claim to start.

Apply online

You can use the online service if:

  • you have already claimed your State Pension

  • there are no children or young people included in your claim

To check your entitlement, phone the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or use the GOV.UK Pension Credit calculator here to find out how much you could get.

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