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Pension Credit provides additional retirement income if you are on a low income, but one in three of the people who are entitled to it don’t claim it. If you’re one of these, you’re missing out on hundreds of pounds a year. Read on to see if you’re eligible for Pension Credit.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is a benefit for people on lower incomes who have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age. It has two parts, Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit, and depending on your income and savings you might be entitled to one or both.
Even if you find out you are only entitled to a small amount of Pension Credit, it is worth claiming it. This is because it can help you qualify for other benefits, like Housing Benefit and help with Council Tax.
Pension Credit – How much do you get?
The amounts shown below are for the 2015-16 tax year.
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed level of £151.20 if you’re single or £230.85 if you’re married or in a civil partnership.
Savings Credit provides some extra money if you’ve made some provision towards your retirement by saving, or with a pension other than the basic State Pension.
The additional income provided by Savings Credit is up to £14.82 a week for a single person, £17.43 for married couples and civil partners.
Additional Pension Credit in special circumstances
You may get a higher amount of Pension Credit if you’re disabled, or if you have caring responsibilities or if you’re responsible for paying certain housing costs, including mortgage interest payments. Find out more by using the Pension Credit calculator on the GOV.UK website.
Pension Credit – Who can claim?
To claim Guarantee Credit you need to have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age. This is the same as the State Pension age for women. It depends on your date of birth and is gradually being increased. You can use a simple calculator on the GOV.UK website to find out the age that applies to you.
To be eligible for Savings Credit, you must be aged 65 or over. In general, you will only receive it if your income is above a threshold of £126.50 a week if you’re single or £201.80 if you’re married or in a civil partnership (2015-16 tax year). The amount you’ll get will depend on the savings and income you already have.
You can claim Pension Credit regardless of whether you are still working or have retired.
When and how to apply for Pension Credit
You can apply up to four months before you want to start receiving Pension Credit.
- The quickest way is to call the Pension Service Tel 0800 99 1234. They’ll fill in the application form for you.
To apply for Pension Credit you will need to provide certain information. This includes:
- Your National Insurance number
- Your bank account details
- Evidence of your income and your savings or investments
What to do if your circumstances change
The amount of Pension Credit you get may change if your income, capital or other circumstances change.
If you are 65 or over an assessed income period may apply. If so you do not need to tell the Pension Service about every change in circumstances. The letter sent to you with the Pension Credit decision will tell you if an assessed income period applies to you. You will also have been sent an accompanying information sheet called “Pension Credit what you need to tell us about”. It tells you about the changes you must report even if you do have an assessed income period.
If an assessed income period doesn’t apply you must tell the Pension Service immediately about any change in your circumstances that may affect how much Pension Credit you get for example, if you start work or if your savings go above £10,000. That way, they can recalculate your Pension Credit entitlement and make sure you receive the right amount.
To notify the Pension Service of a change in circumstances, call them on Tel 03456 060 265 and choose Option 1.
Universal Credit and changes to Pension Credit for new claimants
Universal Credit is being gradually introduced between now and October 2017. If you reach Pension Credit age and your partner is under Pension Credit age, you might not be able claim Pension Credit – your partner might have to claim Universal Credit instead. The date for this change has not yet been announced.
But if you are already claiming Pension Credit when the change comes in you won’t be affected (unless or until there is a break in your Pension Credit claim for some reason). Don’t worry – you’ll be told about this change at the time you apply for Pension Credit.