Pension Credit to rise in 2022: Check if you’re eligible now as retirees need ‘extra help’

Alastair Stewart sends warning about future of pensions

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The DWP confirmed benefit payments will rise by 3.1 percent next year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This means Pension Credit rates will rise across the board.

Pension Credit rates

Currently, Pension Credit tops up weekly income to £177.10 for single claimants or £270.30 for those with partners. Extra amounts may be awarded to those who have other responsibilities and costs such as caring for a child.

From April 2022, single claimants will get £182.66, while coupled claimants will get £278.70.

To be eligible for Pension Credit, claimants must be living in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached their state pension age. If a claimant has a partner, they must be included in their application.

Claimants in a couple will be eligible if they and their partner have both reached their state pension ages and one of them is getting Housing Benefit for people over state pension age.

When a person applies for Pension Credit, their income will be calculated. If they have a partner, their income will be calculated together.

Pension Credit will top up income where it is less than the £177.10 or £270.30 thresholds. If a claimant’s income is higher than these amounts, they may still get Pension Credit if they have a disability, care for someone, have savings or have certain housing costs.

Claims for Pension Credit can be started up to four months before a person reaches their state pension age. Claimants can also apply for Pension Credit at any time after reaching their state pension age but an application can only be backdated by up to three months.

This means some claimants may get three months worth of Pension Credit in one go. When applying for Pension Credit, claimants will need to have certain information at the ready.

This includes:

  • Their National Insurance number
  • Information on their income, savings and investment levels
  • Information on their income, savings and investments on the date they want to backdate their application to

Applications can be made online, over the phone or through the post.

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Millions to miss out

Unfortunately, many retirees are set to miss out on this boosted income. Recently, the DWP released data which showed an estimated 1.47million people are claiming Pension Credit, but only around 60 percent of entitled recipients are claiming the support.

Helen Morrissey, a senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, warned this could be particularly damaging as inflation continues to rise.

She said: “Many people don’t realise they qualify for Pension Credit and risk missing out on a much-needed boost to their pension income.”

“Pension Credit also acts as a gateway to other benefits with over 75s being able to get a free TV licence for instance. You can also get help with heating and council tax bills so it can potentially be a massive help.

“Some people simply don’t know Pension Credit exists while others don’t realise they qualify. For instance, you may still qualify for Pension Credit if you own your own home or have some savings.

“With inflation really starting to show its teeth and energy bills on the rise, many pensioners face a real squeeze in income over the coming months and any extra income is welcome. Anyone who feels they may qualify for Pension Credit should contact DWP. Even if you have been refused in the past a change in circumstances may mean you now qualify so it’s worth checking.”

To help those who may be unsure of their eligibility, the DWP provides a free-to-use Pension Credit calculator on its website. When using this tool, users will need details of their earnings, benefits, pensions, savings and investments.

It should be noted this calculator cannot be used if the user, or their partner:

  • Are deferring their 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

Winter problems

The need for extra support may prove to be especially prevalent as the winter arrives. According to recent analysis from Age UK, an estimated 150,000 older households are likely to be plunged into fuel poverty this winter because of soaring energy prices.

The charity warned over 1.1 million older households will struggle as the spring arrives, with around one million already living in fuel poverty. With this in mind, Age UK urged the Government to take action and extend winter themed support where possible.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, commented: “There’s no doubt that media reports about rising energy bills are filling pensioners on low fixed incomes with absolute dread. More than twenty-five thousand people have told us how worried they are, and it is clear that as things stand, some fully expect to have to choose between cutting down on food or turning down their heating, once the cold weather sets in. Doing either is a potential risk to their health, especially if they are living with serious underlying health conditions like heart disease or COPD.

“At Age UK our greatest concern is that some older people will not even try to keep their homes adequately warm this winter, for fear of incurring big bills they cannot afford to pay. Many older people are brilliant at making a small budget go a long way, but that’s unlikely to be enough to protect them from the impact of rising household bills and soaring energy costs this time round.

“New Age UK analysis suggests that another 150,000 older households could be dragged into fuel poverty by the spring, unless the Government acts now to provide those at greatest risk with more financial support. We are calling for a package of measures to be brought in immediately, targeted at the older people who need extra help the most. The package should include a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund that councils distribute to tackle fuel poverty in their areas. We are also calling for a renewed push to get more older people to claim the Pension Credit they are due.”

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