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Retirees: Last chance to claim genuine £4k bill help from the Government

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

There are just a couple of days left for retirees to check if they qualify for Pension Credit worth up to £3,500 a year which acts as a gateway to gain a further £300 to help with the rising cost of living.

Low income retirees are urged to check now whether they may be eligible for Pension Credit, as successful claims made by 23:59 on 19 May could unlock a further £301 Cost of Living payment from the Government.

While there’s no deadline to claim Pension Credit on its own, the urgency here is to apply by the deadline to meet separate criteria under the Government’s Cost of Living payments, triggering additional financial help.

This is because Pension Credit claims can be backdated by up to three months, meaning recipients would then meet the eligibility criteria for the first £301 Cost of Living payment, part of the £900 support for households on means-tested benefits during 2023/24.

Anyone entitled to Pension Credit between 26 January and 25 February 2023 will qualify for the £301 help which will be paid directly into bank accounts.

Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said: “You only need to be eligible for Pension Credit for one day during that period in order to qualify for the full £301 payment.

“But receiving the Pension Credit you are owed and the attached benefits, including the Cost of Living payment, won’t happen automatically – it’s up to you to make a claim if you think you are eligible.”

Selby added that someone who fails to claim Pension Credit could have missed out on nearly £1,000 in cost-of-living payments alone already – £650 they could have received last year and now another £301.

Are you eligible? How to claim Pension Credit

Pension Credit is designed to help people over State Pension age and on a low income with daily living costs, though you do not need to be in receipt of State Pension to receive it. This could be because you may not have enough National Insurance contributions to gain the State Pension.

It tops up a person’s income to a minimum £201.05 per week for single pensioners and to £306.85 for couples while those with caring responsibilities or a disability may be eligible for more.

Pension Credit is worth an average of £3,500 a year and currently around 1.4 million pensioners receive the means-tested benefit. However, an estimated 850,000 are failing to claim, according to the Government.

If you (or a relative) think you may be entitled, visit the Government’s Pension Credit calculator where you’ll need to share details of earnings, benefits, pension, savings and investments. It will then help you work out how much you may be entitled to receive.

How to apply

You can start an application up to four months before you reach State Pension age by visiting the Government’s How to Claim page for online claims (if you’ve already applied for your State Pension).

Alternatively, you can phone 0800 99 1234 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm), or you can print out and fill in a paper application form.

Pension Credit also acts as a ‘gateway’ to other benefits, such as help with heating costs, housing benefit, dental treatment and free TV licenses (if you are aged 75 or over).

Minister for Pensions, Laura Trott, said: “Pension Credit can make a real difference and I am determined to make sure this support – worth an average of £3,500 a year – is reaching everyone who needs it, particularly as we know how much pressure households across the country have been under.

“Please check if you or your loved ones can claim for this extra support, and if you do it by 19 May you could qualify for the £301 Cost of Living Payment – giving another financial boost to those who need it most.”

Originally the Government said the £301 Cost of Living payment would be made by 17 May for the majority of individuals, but clarified with YourMoney.com that “your payment might come later, for example if you’re awarded a qualifying benefit at a later date or you change the account your benefit or tax credits are paid into. You will still be paid the Cost of Living payment automatically”.