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State pension payments are based on a person’s National Insurance contributions and at least 10 years are needed to receive anything in retirement. Some state pensioners may end up receiving very little when they reach their retirement age and due to this, the government offers a pension credit benefit which can support retirees on particularly low incomes.
Pension credit tops up weekly income levels if they’re below £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for couples.
Their income can be topped up to those levels under the “guarantee credit” element of pension credit, with additional “savings credit” boosts of either £13.97 or £15.62 being available for certain claimants.
While pension credit could be crucial for those on low incomes new research from Independent Age has revealed that only 61 percent of eligible pensioners are receiving the benefit.
Their findings detailed that if pension credit take-up was increased to 100 percent then almost 450,000 pensioners could be lifted out of poverty.
The charity has called on the government to work on how it can increase uptake of pension credit over the coming five years.
Deborah Alsina MBE, the Chief Executive of Independent Age, commented on the organisations research: “What we can see from this report is that ensuring the poorest pensioners have a liveable income is not only the right thing to do, it’s the economically responsible thing to do.
“Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing a health and social care bill of an estimated £4billion, when if the government ensured older people received the £2.2 billion to which they’re entitled, many of these additional costs to our health and care systems would be alleviated.
“Reducing pressure on our hospitals and care services is especially critical right now, as we continue to cope with the effects of COVID-19.
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“A take-up rate of 61 percent for a benefit designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible – and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade.
“Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life.
“The government needs to urgently create an action plan that contains high quality, up-to-date research into who is not claiming Pension Credit and why they are not receiving it.
“There needs to be recognition of the active role the government must to play to increase Pension Credit take-up.”
In order to be eligible for pension credit, a person must be living in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached State Pension age.
The rules on eligibility can also be affected by the claimant’s relationship status and to work out if their income is below the qualifying threshold, the following incomes must be taken into account:
- state pension
- other pensions
- most social security benefits, for example Carer’s Allowance
- savings, investments over £10,000 – for these £1 is counted for every £500 or part £500
So long as a person is eligible, they can start their application for pension credit up to four months before reaching state pension age.
Pension credit can also be claimed at any time after reaching state pension age but it should be noted that the payments will only be backdated by three months.
The benefit can be claimed online, over the phone or by post and claimants will need the following information ready:
- their National Insurance number
- information on income, savings and investments
- their bank account details if applying by phone or post
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