Pension credit has bee the focus of money expert Martin Lewis this week, with the expert saying millions are missing out on extra money each year according to new government figures. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain what pension credit is, how it works and how much you could be eligible for.
What is pension credit?
Pension credit is a tax-free benefit for people over State Pension age.
Pension credit tops up your income if you are struggling to make ends meet.
This benefit is means-tested for retired people on low incomes and could see people qualify to be gain thousands more per year.
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Pension credit: Are you eligible for pension credit and if so, how much? (Image: GETTY)
Pension credit: Pension credit is a tax-free benefit for retired persons (Image: GETTY)
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According to the Government, more than three million households are eligible for pension credit.
But four out of 10 fail to claim the benefit because in many cases because they do not realise they are entitled to it.
Government figures suggest the average weekly pension credit amount received by claimants is £58, which equates to more than £3,000 a year.
The amount you are awarded depends upon a number of factors including:
Your incomeHow much you have savedHow much you have invested
For couples: your combined income and savings
Pension credit: Your pension credit amount depends on your income, savings and investments (Image: GETTY)
Pension credit has two parts: Guarantee credit and savings credit.
Guarantee credit is a top-up payment for those on low incomes.
For single pensioners with a weekly income (including pension) below £167.25, pension credit will top you up to £167.25.
If you have a partner and your joint weekly income is below £255.25, you will see a top-up of your combined income up to £255.25.
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Savings credit is a reward for those who have saved for retirement or if your income is higher than the basic State Pension.
It is only available to people who reached State Pension age before April 6, 2016.
For single pensioners, you could see your weekly income increase by £13.73 per week.
If you are in a couple, you could see your joint weekly income increase by £15.35 per week.
You may also be entitled to have additional pension credit in special circumstances.
For instance, you might get a higher amount of pension credit if you are:
DisabledHave caring responsibilitiesResponsible for paying certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments.
Pension credit: You could earn £13.73 alone or £15.35 as a couple from pension credits (Image: GETTY)How do you qualify for pension credit?
To qualify for pension credit you must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached State Pension age to qualify for Pension Credit.
If you’re in a couple you can start getting Pension Credit if either:
You and your partner have both reached State Pension age
One of you is getting Housing Benefit for people over State Pension age
Your partner is your husband, wife or civil partner (if you live with them) or someone else you live with as if you were married.
If you were getting pension credit before May 15, 2019, you will continue to get pension credit even if your partner is under State Pension age.
If your entitlement stops for any reason, for example your circumstances change, you cannot start getting it again unless you (or your partner) are eligible under the new rules.
You can work out exactly how much you could get by using this pension credit calculator.
You will need the details of your earnings, benefits and pensions, and savings and investments.
You will also need the same details for your partner if you have one.
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The easiest way to claim pension credit is via the telephone.
A friend or family member can call for you, but you must be with them when they call.
Pension Credit claim line
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 99 1234
The phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7:30pm.
You can use also use a paper application if you are unable to make a claim by phone.
You should contact a voluntary organisation, for example Citizens Advice or AgeUK, in your area or get a friend or family member to call the helpline to ask for a paper application.
When you make your claim you will need your:
National Insurance number
Information about your income, savings and investments
Bank account details.
The earliest you can start your application is four months before you reach State Pension age.
You can claim any time after you reach State Pension age but your claim can only be backdated for three months.