Pension Credit Myths which Stop Older People Claiming £3,500 Annual Top-Up
As a journalist who cares about the welfare of elderly people, I am appalled by the number of pensioner households who miss out on an annual income boost of around £3,500 because of misplaced beliefs about their eligibility for Pension Credit. According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), close to 850,000 pensioners do not claim the benefit, thinking that because they own their own home or have savings, they wouldn’t be accepted.
Barriers to Claiming Pension Credit
The DWP has highlighted several reasons why elderly people do not claim Pension Credit:
1. Misconceptions About Eligibility
Many people wrongly assume they are not eligible for Pension Credit due to their savings, home ownership or occupational pension. However, it’s worth checking as these factors do not disqualify you outright. Besides, there’s no capital cut-off limit, and for Pension Credit savings of under £10,000 are ignored.
2. Not Keen on Being Seen as Needy
Some elderly people feel ashamed about claiming benefits as they don’t want to be seen as needy. However, it’s essential to apply for Pension Credit as it can greatly ease your financial burden and also act as a passport to other benefits. You may be entitled to Winter Heating Payment (Scotland only), free TV licence for people aged 75 and over, help with Council Tax, and Cold Weather Payments (not Scotland).
3. Thinking Claims Not Worth the Effort
Even if the pensioners feel like they may qualify due to their income, they don’t recognise themselves as Pension Credit Claimants, or past refusals have discouraged them. Pension Credit payments are over £65 per week, and the new cost of living payment of £900 is available to beneficiaries of just one penny. A change in your circumstances may mean you qualify now, so it’s worth making the claim.
4. Complicated and Confusing
People also frequently find this topic confusing as it’s complex, but the DWP has simplified the process to claim Pension Credit. Applicants have to call the Pension Credit claim line for one free phone call and the process will be explained in easy to understand steps.
Eight Pension Credit Myths Busted
Here are some of the widely circulated myths about Pension Credits, followed by reasons why they are baseless:
1. Myth: They Do Not Think They Will Be Eligible for Pension Credit
Fact: According to the DWP, over 1.4 million older people across Great Britain, including over 127,000 living in Scotland currently receive the extra financial support.
2. Myth: They Would Get So Little That It’s Not Worth Claiming
Fact: The average Pension Credit payment is actually over £65 per week – that’s well over an extra £3,500 per year.
3. Myth: They Have Savings, So Will Not Qualify
Fact: Unlike other income-related benefits like Universal Credit, there is no capital cut-off limit and for Pension Credit savings of under £10,000 are ignored.
4. Myth: They Own Their Own Home, So Will Not Qualify
Fact: Homeowners can get Pension Credit too, and almost half of its beneficiaries own their own homes.
5. Myth: They Are Not Eligible for Pension Credit – It’s for ‘Old’ People
Fact: People can claim as soon as they reach the qualifying age, which is now State Pension age – 66 for both men and women.
6. Myth: They Cannot Get a State Pension, So, They Will Not Be Eligible
Fact: They may be entitled to Pension Credit – even if they’re not entitled to a State Pension.
7. Myth: They’ve Been Turned Down for Pension Credit Before, So It’s Not Worth Applying Again
Fact: Personal circumstances could have changed and their income or capital may have changed as a result. The first £10,000 of savings will be ignored when working out if someone can get Pension Credit.
8. Myth: It’s Too Complicated and Claiming is Not Worth the Effort
Fact: The DWP has simplified the process and people can claim with one free phone call to the Pension Credit claim line.
It’s time that elderly people receive the support they deserve, and Pension Credit is an excellent scheme to help those struggling financially. Myths which exist around this benefit stop them from getting the support they need. It’s worth checking whether you or your elderly relatives are eligible for this support as the claims process is simple. Additionally, new claims made before May 19, which are later successful, will qualify for the £301 cost of living payment, along with future support worth £599. The UK Government payments of £300 and £299 are due in the autumn and spring 2024, respectively.
- Pension Credit tops up a person’s income to a minimum of £201.05 per week for single pensioners and to £306.85 for couples or more.
- If you are over 65 and reached State Pension age before April 6, 2016, you could still qualify for Pension Credit if your weekly income is less than £218.80 if you are single or £319.20 if you are a couple.
- People can quickly check their eligibility for Pension Credit using the online calculator or by calling the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234.
If you or anyone you know is over 65, it’s worth checking if you or they are eligible for Pension Credit. The extra income boost can make a huge difference to finances, especially for those struggling to cover monthly bills. It’s also important to dismiss the common myths that prevent the elderly from applying and to understand that the process of claim applications is straightforward and simplified.