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DWP confirms no plans to review Pension Credit eligibility rules for mixed age married couples
Since May 2019, both members of a couple need to have reached State Pension age to qualify for the £3,500 income boost.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently announced new plans to continue encouraging more than 11 million people of State Pension age to check if they qualify for an annual income boost worth over £3,500.
In the new year, DWP will write to older people across the UK as part of the annual uprating of State Pension, advising them about the new payment rates. It will also include updated information on Pension Credit to encourage take-up of the benefit, which can be a passport to additional help with housing, heating and Council Tax.
However, DWP has also confirmed that it has no plans to change its policy on the benefit in relation to married couples where one partner is below State Pension age, which is currently 66 for both men and women across the UK. The response came after SNP MP Peter Grant asked DWP whether an assessment of the “potential merits” of changing the eligibility criteria for Pension Credit, specifically around mixed age couples, had been considered.
In a written response earlier this week, Pensions Minister, Laura Trott MP said that since May 2019, both members of a couple need to have reached State Pension age in order to be eligible for Pension Credit.
Ms Trott explained: ‘This policy ensures that the same incentives to work and save apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age.
“Pension Credit is intended to provide long term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active due to age. It is not intended to support people of working age.
“We have no plans to change this policy.”
During the Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that Pension Credit will increase by 10.1 per cent from April.
Pension Credit weekly payment rates 2023/24
- Single: £201.05, up £18.45 from £182.60
- Couple: £306.85, up £28.15 from £278.70
People can check their eligibility for Pension Credit using the online calculator or by calling the Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234.
Below is everything you need to know about the benefit to make a claim for yourself, a family member or friend. We also have details on the handy online Pension Credit calculator which can quickly indicate if your claim may be successful and how much you might get.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit currently gives 1.4 million people across the UK extra money to help with living costs if they are over State Pension age and on a low income.
Some older people think because they have savings or own their home they would not be eligible for any Pension Credit, but the DWP said hundreds of thousands could be missing out on the extra money and discounts it provides every month.
Other help if you get Pension Credit
If you qualify for Pension Credit you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax discount
- Free TV licence if you are aged 75 or over
- Help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
- Help with your heating costs through the Warm Home Discount Scheme
- A discount on the Royal Mail redirection service if you are moving house
Mixed aged older couples and Pension Credit
In May 2019, the law changed so that a ‘mixed age couple’ – a couple where one partner is of State Pension age and the other is under it – are considered to be a ‘working age’ couple when checking entitlement to means-tested benefits.
This means they cannot claim Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit until they are both State Pension age. Before this DWP change, a mixed age couple could be eligible to claim the more generous State Pension age benefits when just one of them reached State Pension age.
How to use the Pension Credit calculator
To use the calculator on GOV.UK, you will need details of:
- earnings, benefits and pensions
- savings and investments
You’ll need the same details for your partner if you have one.
You will be presented by a series of questions with multiple choice answer options.
- Your date of birth
- Your residential status
- Where in the UK you live
- Whether you are registered blind
- Which benefits you currently receive
- How much you receive each week for any benefits you get
- Whether someone is paid Carer’s Allowance to look after you
- How much you get each week from pensions – State Pension, private and work pensions
- Any employment earnings
- Any savings, investments or bonds you have
Once you have answered these questions, a summary screen shows your responses, allowing you to go back and change any answers before submitting. The Pension Credit calculator then displays how much benefit you could receive each week.
All you have to do then is follow the link to the application page to find out exactly what you will get from the DWP, including access to other financial support.
There’s also an option to print off the answers you give using the calculator tool to help you complete the application form quicker without having to look out the same details again. Try the Pension Credit Calculator for yourself or family member to make sure you’re receiving all the financial support you are entitled to claim.
Who cannot use the Pension Credit calculator?
You cannot use the calculator if you or your partner:
- are deferring your State Pension
- own more than one property
- are self employed
- have housing costs (such as service charges or Crown Tenant rent) which are neither mortgage repayments nor rent covered by Housing Benefit
How to make a claim
You can start your application up to 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.
This means you can get up to three months of Pension Credit in your first payment if you were eligible during that time.
You will need:
- your National Insurance number
- information about your income, savings and investments
- your bank account details, if you’re applying by phone or by post
If you’re backdating your claim, you’ll need details of your income, savings and investments on the date you want your claim to start.
You can use the online service if:
- you have already claimed your State Pension
- there are no children or young people included in your claim
Source: Daily Record UK
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