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Pensioners in poverty miss out on £3.5bn of unclaimed benefits

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
25/04/2017
Nearly three million people aged over 65 are struggling financially despite billions of pounds of benefits going unclaimed each year, according to research.

Latest government figures reveal that pensioner poverty is on the rise with 1.9 million pensioners now living below the poverty line, deemed as earning less than £288 per week.

One in 10 people aged over 65 wouldn’t be able to pay an unexpected expense of £200 – for example, if their washing machine broke down.

But charity Age UK said millions of older people struggling to survive on a low income could be entitled to benefits such as Pension Credit (see more below on benefits) which could give a much-needed boost to their weekly income if claimed.

It estimates there is £3.5bn of unclaimed Pension Credit and Housing Benefit alone. Those who make an eligible claim for Pension Credit could increase their income by an average of £42 a week, or over £2,000 a year.

As such, the charity is urging older people to get in touch to find out if they’re entitled to extra financial support.

Caroline Abrahams, director at Age UK, said: “Managing on a low, fixed income is really tough, and many people face a daily struggle just to afford the basics. That’s why is it so important that every older person who is entitled to claim benefits does so. Every day Age UK helps people to claim what they are entitled to, and every day we hear how much of a difference the money makes, how surprised people are by how straightforward the process is with the help of an adviser, and how much less they have to worry about everyday bills.

“It is shameful that despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5bn in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives. We would urge anyone who is worried about their finances, or an older family member or friend, to get in touch with us for free, impartial information and advice.”

The Charity publishes a range of free guides to help older people claim the benefits they’re entitled to and to get one, call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/letstalkmoney.

Here’s a list of benefits and the rates available for April 2017/18:

Attendance Allowance

Most people aged 65 or over who have personal care needs or require supervision to keep safe can apply. It entitles people to £55.65 per week if you need help in the day or at night or £83.10 if you need help in the day and at night.

Carer’s Allowance

Many people who care for someone with a disability or health problem for at least 35 hours a week can claim Carer’s Allowance. It entitles the recipient to £62.70 a week. For those receiving a State Pension, it’s not paid on top of the State Pension but there may still be advantages to claiming.

Housing Benefit

Most people on a low income who rent their home can claim. The amount varies, but may cover rent in full (this is especially likely for those who receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit).

Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit

Most people on a low income can claim. The qualifying age is increasing and was 63 and nine months in April 2017. The amount varies, but tops up income to at least £159.35 for single people and £243.25 for couples.

Pension Credit – Savings Credit

Some people who are over 65 and on a modest income with some savings may be able to claim but they won’t be eligible for this element of Pension Credit if they reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016. It entitles single people to £13.20 or £14.90 for couples per week.

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