State Pension Credit is available for those in receipt of the basic state pension and struggling to make ends meet on a low income.
A quarter of pensioners are thought to be missing out on extra income from the Government that could boost their annual income by an average £2,000 a year by claiming what they are rightly entitled to, according to the Government. More than £3.3billion in state pension credit was left unclaimed last year.
I was watching a programme on the television this week called "Holding
Back the Years" and it really brought it home to me how bad our state
pension really is. For anyone where it's the only source of income they
have it means living on the poverty line.
Angela Rippon was looking at the two extremes of Retirees those who could afford to live in the equivalent of a 5* Hotel Retirement Home which cost a huge amount of money and only the very wealthy with large pension incomes could possibly afford that.
At the other end of the spectrum there was a lady that although she had worked all her life was living such a frugal life as her only pension income was the basic state pension which today is £122.30 per week and that would be if she got the full amount which not everyone does.
She didn't have a washing machine, she washed her clothes and bed linen in the bath tub by treading on them. She only had heat in her living room which was a modest electric fire. She told how when it was cold she got undressed in front of the fire and then ran into the bedroom and snuggled under a duvet. She had no electric blanket and not even a hot water bottle.
She bought all her clothes from the Charity Shop other than underclothes. She washed her hair in washing up liquid.
She didn't use her electric lights at night she managed with the light from the television until she went to bed which she did in the dark.
It's unbelieveable that in a rich Country like the UK people have to live like this particularly when they are old and vulnerable and need more comfort in their lives not less. The sad thing was she could have a much improved standard of living by claiming the State Pension Credit which would have taken her income up to £159.35 as a single person or £243.25 for a couple.
Once you claim one benefit it also opens the door to more help. She would also have probably been entitled to Council Tax benefit which would have vastly reduced her Council Tax bill and then possibly the additional cold weather payment of £25 per week that is paid to people on low incomes when we have a prolonged period of cold weather which we've had plenty of this winter.
Imagine not even being able to treat yourself to a nice meal out or go to the Cinema or Theatre and I guess it was a long time since she had ever had a holiday. Hopefully since she appeared on the programme she has been helped to improve her income considerably and her way of life.
It's so sad that people don't claim State Pension Credit. Is it because they don't know about it or is it that they are too proud to claim benefits? I suspect it's probably a bit of both. Or they're put off because it's too much trouble.
It's up to all of us to spread the word and raise awareness of the help that is available for those on low incomes and struggling to make ends meet. It could be your elderly parents, a neighbour, a friend or may be it applies to you. Whoever it is it's quite easy to find out if they would qualify for State Pension Credit claiming is not difficult.
The first step is finding out if your eligible.
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts:-
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension but you may not be eligible for Savings Credit if you reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.
It depends on your own personal circumstances and income whether you qualify and if you do how much you would get.
The quickest way to find out is to use the Pension Credit Calculator which will work out how much you would be entitled to you will find this here https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit.
It explains everything you need to know in easy steps.
It depends on what amount of basic state pension you are on as not everyone gets the same it's dependent on age and the number of years you paid NI contributions but whatever you get the payment tops up your weekly income if it’s below £159.35 (for single people) or £243.25 (for couples). You pay no tax on Pension Credit.
The quickest way is by phone
Pension Credit claim line
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
If you are worried about the process you can also get help to claim by going to The Citizens Advice Bureau or any Age UK branch.
You will need:
your National Insurance number
information about your income, savings and investments
your bank account details.
State Pension Credit could make a difference of just under £2,000 extra a year for most people who claim. The statistics show 9 out of 10 claims are usually found to be eligible. What have you got to lose? Nothing but everything to gain. It's money you're entitled to so don't turn your back on it.