It’s not too late for pensioners on a low income to apply for pension credit and get the £650 cost-of living payment that comes with it. That is being paid in two parts – the first £326 has already been sent to eight million people on means-tested benefits, including 1.4 million pensioners who already get pension credit. The second £324 payment will come in the autumn.
The qualifying date to get the first payment was 25 May. But pension credit can be backdated by three months, so people who first claim it now can still be in time to qualify for the first half of the payment. They will get the second half later. The Department for Work and Pensions recommends that you claim by 18 August (though in theory a claim as late as 24 August could be OK). Benefit experts warn that you must ask for it to be backdated as that is not always done automatically.
People aged 66 or more, and couples where both are at least 66, can get pension credit if their income is less than certain amounts, varying with age and disability. Women born 6 April 1953 or later, and men born 6 April 1951 or later, can get pension credit if their income is below £182.60 a week (single) or £278.70 for a couple. Older people can get some pension credit if their income is below £218.80 a week (single) or £319.20 for a couple. If your income is more than these amounts you may still qualify if you get a disability benefit or have dependent children. Savings over £10,000 will reduce the amount you get.
It’s worth claiming, even if you will be entitled to a very small amount: just 1p a week pension credit triggers the cost-of-living payments. If you’re on pension credit, once you reach age 75 you will also qualify for a free TV licence. You may also get more help with your council tax or rent.
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Check if you qualify by searching gov.uk for “pension credit calculator”. To claim, call 0800 99 1234 and remember to ask for three months’ backdating.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. To read more of his advice, see radiotimesmoney.com
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com.