Cost of living: Families can help pensioners claim benefits

·2 min read
Couple look at their finances
Couple look at their finances

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are failing to claim the benefits they are entitled to, leading to a call for family and friends to step in.

An estimated 850,000 pensioner households are failing to claim a total of £1.7bn in benefits, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Pension Credit can be a gateway to other support, such as grants to help with energy bills.

People are being asked to check their relatives are making a claim.

"We recognise the challenges some pensioners will be facing with the cost of living, which is why promoting Pension Credit is a priority," Guy Opperman, the pensions minister, said.

"We're calling on everyone with retired family, friends and loved ones to check in with them and see if they can get this extra financial support, which could make a huge difference."

About 1.4 million people claim Pension Credit which is a benefit paid to those on low incomes who are above state pension age. It is designed to help with living costs by guaranteeing them a minimum income.

That equates to a top-up on weekly incomes to £182.60 for those who are single, or a joint weekly income of £278.70 for couples.

Significantly, it can also lead to the automatic payment of additional support, including housing benefit, a council tax discount, help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs, and a free TV licence for those aged 75 and over.

Energy bills

Those on Pension Credit also receive help with domestic gas and electricity bills. Sharply increasing energy costs are one of the main drivers of the rising cost of living.

Recipients of Pension Credit also receive bill reductions in the winter, through the Warm Home Discount, and the recently announced £650 payment to help cover the cost of energy.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at pensions and investment mutual Royal London, said anyone signing up to receive Pension Credit now would be too late for the first £325 instalment of the grant, but not the second instalment which will be paid later in the year.

Michael Clarke, from advice charity Turn2us, said: "Pension Credit can act as a vital lifeline for people aged 66 and over who might be on a low income and it is crucial for people to find out whether they are eligible to claim.

"The impact of the cost of living crisis cannot be underestimated and in the coming months, additional sources of income will be a huge help for people to weather this financial storm," he said.

To check eligibility, the charity has a benefits calculator. More information is also available on the government website. Claims can be made online or on the phone, and all state pension recipients will be receive information in the coming weeks.