Don’t miss out on your free money! Pension Credit

Check out your eligibility for Pension Credit, says Paul Lewis – because a million OAPs don’t

Portrait of active mature couple.

It’s free money. But up to a million people who could take this bonus – worth £32 a week on average – don’t. Aimed chiefly at low income older people, Pension Credit is a means-tested top-up to your pension; but since Gordon Brown introduced it in 2003, the percentage of  eligible people not claiming it stays remarkably fixed at around 40%. The latest official estimates are that up to 1 million who could claim it do not do so.

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Pension Credit comes in two parts. The “guarantee credit” will boost your income up to £177.10 a week if you’re single, and £270.30 if you’re in a couple. Note that for a couple to claim now they must both be aged at least 66. If you are a carer, or disabled, you can get your income boosted by more than that. If you have savings over £10,000, the amount you get will be reduced. A couple are assessed on the total income and the total savings they have between them.

There is a further boost for men born before 6 April 1951, and women born before 6 April 1953, which they can claim even if their income is above the “guarantee credit” levels.  They will get an extra bit of Pension Credit – called “savings credit” – with an income up to £212 a week if they are single, and up to £309 if they are a couple. The extra money ranges from £14 a week to just a few pence. But if they’re over 75,  even a penny a week of Pension Credit will qualify them for a free TV licence, worth £159 a year. It can also mean more money to help with council tax, or rent for those who pay that.

So if you – or anyone you know – might be entitled, be sure to claim. Just call 0800 99 1234 and have your state pension or National Insurance number to hand. Or go to gov.uk and search for “pension credit”.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.  QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com  Paul cannot answer you personally, but will endeavour to respond via his column.