When you’ve worked all your life and paid into the system, it’s only right that you should get your full entitlement once you’ve reached your State Pension age.
Yet latest official figures suggest that more than a third of people eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming it. They could be missing out on thousands of pounds per year which they are entitled to, as well as the additional support and benefits that Pension Credit unlocks. For example, under new plans announced this month, only those in receipt of Pension Credit would qualify for a free TV licence in the future.
Pension Credit tops up your income to a minimum level set by the Government once you’ve reached State Pension age. However, unlike the State Pension it is not paid automatically and it is up to people to claim it if they are eligible. It is thought some people don’t claim simply because they don’t know they can, others because they assume any benefits they are entitled to will be paid automatically, and others because they wrongly see is ‘a handout’, or ‘scrounging’.
Whatever the case, it is believed that more than a third of those eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming their entitlement. If you qualify, you will also be entitled to other benefits, such as free NHS dental treatment, free sight tests and vouchers towards glasses or contact lenses. Depending on your circumstances, you may even get your rent and Council Tax paid in full.
Some people think they won’t be entitled to Pension Credit because they have savings, but that isn’t necessarily true. If you have savings over £10,000 it could reduce the amount of Pension Credit you receive, but you could still be entitled to something. Even if you only receive a few pounds in Pension Credit, it’s worth claiming because it opens the door to a range of other benefits, including NHS health costs and fuel costs.
Some people are put off by the thought of a long and complicated application process, but Pension Credit is one of the simplest benefits to apply for. You won’t have a long form to fill in on your own and it only takes one free phone call to get the ball rolling.
Older people’s charity Independent Age has produced a clear and easy-to-understand guide on Pension Credit, which you can download to read on screen or print off by clicking here. You can also request a copy in the post by ringing the charity’s free helpline on 0800 319 6789.
The advice guide also has a section on how to apply for Pension Credit. The simplest way is to call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234. The claim line staff will fill in the application form with you over the phone, but before you ring you should have a note of your income, savings and investments, your bank details and your National Insurance number. If you have a partner, you will also need their details to hand.