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A million low income retirees miss out on Pension Credit

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Up to a million people entitled to receive Pension Credit failed to claim the benefit, missing out on an average £1,700 a year.

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit that tops up a pensioner’s weekly income if it’s below £173.75 for a single person or £265.20 for a couple.

The latest estimates of take-up in the 2018/19 financial year revealed six in 10 entitled to Pension Credit claimed the benefit. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics also showed that 76% of the total amount of Pension Credit that could have been claimed was claimed.

But, its estimates also revealed that up to one million families who were entitled to receive the benefit didn’t claim it.

As such, up to £1.8bn of available Pension Credit went unclaimed, the equivalent of £1,700 per year for everyone entitled to receive the top-up payments.

The DWP noted that take-up of Pension Credit by those aged under 75 continued to be higher than those aged 75 or over at 64% and 62% respectively.

Further, expenditure take-up of Pension Credit by couples (68%) continued to be lower than that of single males (78%) and single females (79%).

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said figures suggest many people struggling to make ends meet may not realise they are entitled to financial help or find the system too confusing to understand.

He said: “Our own research found that four in 10 (42%) of those aged over 65 had never checked if they were eligible for a benefit, a figure that is higher among homeowners (49%) and those aged over 80 (57%).

“Ultimately it is the responsibility of people to claim for themselves. Those with aged relatives or friends they see struggling for income can help them check. The government web site has links to useful third-party calculators ( while other sources are Citizens Advice and local councils.”

Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “Pension Credit is a benefit aimed at the very poorest of pensioners and so it is vital that those who are entitled to claim it do so. It also acts as a gateway to other benefits such as free TV licences for the over 75s. In the House of Lords this week it was said the DWP has no written strategy aimed at boosting take up of this benefit. We would urge government to make this a key area of focus.”

Related: See’s Pensioner homeowner? The benefits worth £100s you could be missing out on for more information.

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