‘Made a huge difference’ State pensioner, 76, on ‘amazing’ boost to income – can you claim

Martin Lewis viewer reveals success with pension credit

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Yvonne DeBurgo, 76, retired at age 60 on a very low income and struggled to make ends meet until she claimed the benefits she has been entitled to. Ms Deburgo worked as a receptionist and retired 16 years ago.

However, it was only five years ago that she realised she was entitled to Pension Credit. 

She commented: “Before receiving Pension Credit I was scrimping and scraping. I thought it would be this way for the rest of my life, it was a bleak future. 

“In the winter, I couldn’t afford to put the heating on so would sit wrapped up in clothes but my bungalow was still really cold.” 

Ms Deburgo continued: “Friends would invite me out for coffee, but I couldn’t afford to pay for a drink in a café so I wouldn’t go. 

“I couldn’t afford new clothing and essentials like underwear, so I had to make do with old clothes.”

Virgin Money and Turn2us charity have joined forces to help more people realise and access the unclaimed benefits they are due.

As the cost of living crunch worsens, more pensioners are facing this difficult reality which is why the likes of Virgin Money and Turn2us are urging them to claim every penny they are entitled to. 

Ms Deburgo shared how claiming her entitlement changed her life: “Pension Credit has been amazing and made a huge difference to me. 

“I can have the heating on, I can go out for coffee and socialise with friends again which has made a huge difference to my mental health – I feel less isolated and alone now.”

Turns2us is a national poverty charity that provides a free benefits calculator to help Britons ensure they aren’t missing out. 

Now, the calculator is also available on Virgin Money’s website. 

The collaboration follows recent statistics from Independent Age which showcased that up to 850,000 pensioner households missed out on up to £1.7billion of Pension Credit benefit in the 2019 to 2020 financial year. 

Fergus Murphy, customer experience officer at Virgin Money commented: “These are especially tough times, and we know that some of our customers may be struggling on low incomes but missing out on extra income because they haven’t received benefits they are entitled to.

“Independent Age’s analysis clearly demonstrates how the over 65s are missing out, but we know that this is an issue which affects all age groups. 

“It’s not always easy to find out which benefits you might be entitled to but Turn2us’s calculator is now on our website and not only is it free, it takes less than ten minutes to use and is completely anonymous.”

Michael Clarke, head of information programmes at Turn2us added: “Millions of us are currently missing out on thousands of pounds worth of unclaimed benefits, that is why we’re hugely grateful to Virgin Money for embedding our benefits calculator onto their website so more people can make sure they are not missing out.”

The cost of living crisis may well worsen as tax rises, inflation and minimal state pension increases may see more pensioners facing an uncomfortable financial situation.

Morgan Vine, head of policy and influencing at Independent Age, noted that their advice team sadly regularly hear from Britons who have to wear coats inside their home to keep their heating bills down or even skip meals to save money.

She added: “We want more people to receive the money they are entitled to and a benefit calculator is a great way to inform people what they might be entitled to.

“Our own research worryingly revealed that two in five pensioners spent at least one year of the last decade in poverty, and social benefit income is vital in moving out of poverty past retirement age. 

“Pension Credit has the potential to lift 400,000 older people out of poverty, and we will continue campaigning for the Government to ensure this money is received by everyone entitled to it.”

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