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Six in 10 homeowner pensioners fail to claim benefits they’re entitled to

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Homeowning pensioners are missing out on thousands of pounds in extra income amid the cost-of-living squeeze. Here’s how to check and get what you’re owed.

These households are missing out on an average £1,100 a year extra income, according to Just Group’s 13th annual State Benefits report.

While 62% were failing to claim means-tested State Benefits, a quarter were claiming but receiving less than their entitlement.

Just calculated these households were missing out on an average £660 a year in income.

It found that while this year the amounts unclaimed are down on recent years (£1,197 in 2021, £1,423 in 2019), the proportion who aren’t getting their entitlements has risen. This has jumped to 62% in 2022, up from 42% in 2020 and 21% in 2021.

Most common unclaimed benefits

The four key benefits missed by homeowning pensioners, include:

Guarantee Pension Credit: This is the main benefit targeted at helping low-income pensioners. It has the highest take-up rate of all the four key benefits with two-thirds (64%) of those who are eligible claiming. But those failing to claim are missing out on an average £1,153 extra income per year.

Savings Pension Credit: This is a top-up for pensioners on low incomes who have modest savings. It consistently has the lowest proportion eligible (3%) but also consistently low take-up rates with pensioners losing out on £292 a year extra income.

Council Tax reduction: This is the benefit with the highest eligibility but only a third (35%) are claiming, missing out on an average of £1,003 a year.

Universal Credit: About one in seven of Just Group’s lifetime mortgage enquiries came from households below State Pension Age potentially eligible for Universal Credit. Although actual eligibility rates were low, the take-up rate was just 50% with £3,692 a year annual income being missed.

Just Group’s research was based on fact-finding interviews with clients seeking advice on equity release during 2022. In one case, it found a pensioner in their eighties was missing out on £79.76 a week by not claiming any benefits. Advisers found he was eligible for £51.86 a week Pension Credit and £27.90 a week Council Tax reduction – equating to £4,147 a year extra income.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at the retirement specialist Just Group, suggested the take-up figures are low due to a misconception by homeowners who think owning a property rules them out of State support.

“Our own research in 2021 found 44% of homeowners aged 65+ had never checked their entitlement to benefits compared to 16% of renters.

“Benefits information is integral to retirement guidance and messages that a range of benefits are available to help people who later in life, are in poor health or find themselves struggling for income should be reinforced during any guidance provided,” Lowe said.

How to check benefit entitlements

Here are six ways to check if you could be claiming benefits:

1) Visit Entitledto which has a free benefits calculator to help work out what you may be eligible to claim.

2) The Government highlights free, independent third-party benefit calculators.

3) Local councils provide information on financial help to pay rent or Council Tax.

4) Organisations such as the MoneyHelper and charities such as Citizens Advice and Age UK can also help.

5) Free, impartial and independent guidance is available to retirees through the government-backed Pension Wise.

6) Professional advisers will charge but can provide regulated advice alongside information about benefit eligibility.

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