The UK state pension is the worst in the developed world, but the poorest retirees can increase their income by claiming a pension credit. Yet too many people don’t know it’s available, or how to make a claim.
More than 2.1 million retirees live in poverty, according to official figures, about half of whom live in extreme poverty.
Applying for a pension credit can change lives, and activists are calling on the government to increase participation.
An incredible £ 1.6bn pension credit goes unclaimed every year. More than a million people, a third of those eligible, could claim an average of £ 1,600 per year, or an additional £ 30.77 per week.
Charity Independent Age has been calling on the government to increase the use of retirement credit since 2019, CEO Deborah Alsina said. “It has the potential to lift about three in 10 retirees out of poverty and cut extreme poverty in half. “
Oxfordshire retiree Yvonne DeBurgo, 76, knows what it’s like to live on less than a state pension, and has found herself scrimping and scratching for every penny.
Her husband being dead, Yvonne struggled to make ends meet on her own. “In winter, I couldn’t afford to turn on the heating, so I would sit in clothes, but my bungalow was still very cold.
Yvonne added: “Friends would invite me over for coffee, but I couldn’t afford a drink in a cafe, so I wouldn’t go and had to settle for old clothes.
She didn’t even have the money to buy new clothes and essentials like underwear. “I thought it would be that way for the rest of my life, it was a bleak future.”
READ MORE: Retirement-age Britons urged to see if they can get pension credit
Yvonne was one of 4.4 million women who paid a reduced rate from NI assuming they would claim their husbands’ dues, known as the “married women’s stamp.” 60 years.
Five years ago, Yvonne realized she was eligible for the pension credit and the top up changed her life. “Now I can turn on the heat, go out for coffee and socialize again. I feel less isolated and alone.
The pension credit also acts as a gateway to other benefits, added Yvonne. “I was also able to afford glasses, so I can read books again and read the subtitles I need on TV.”
The pension credit is a means-tested benefit that supplements the income of the poorest retirees at £ 177.10 per week for singles and £ 270.30 for couples.
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Caregivers, people with severe disabilities or those responsible for a child or young person may benefit from additional assistance. Some may qualify even if they have other income, savings, or own their home.
Disabled pension credit applicants may receive a supplement of £ 67.30 per week if they are entitled to an assistance allowance or the average or higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance.
Those requesting care allowance could get an additional £ 37.70 per week.
Applicants can also benefit from housing allowance if they are tenants, or mortgage interest assistance if they are owners.
They can also get a reduction in council tax, a free TV license if 75 and over, NHS dental help, glasses, travel costs for appointments. you in the hospital and heating costs.
You can apply by mail or online at Gov.uk, or by calling the pension credit application line on 0800 99 1234. Families, friends and neighbors can all help vulnerable loved ones make a claim.