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Eight in ten eligible pensioners lose £1,000+ in unclaimed benefits

Eight in ten eligible pensioners lose £1,000+ in unclaimed benefits
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Eight in ten pensioners entitled to state benefits missed out on an average of £1,231 last year by not making a claim, a retirement specialist reveals.

Just Group’s annual State Benefits report for 2023 also showed that one in ten of those making a claim still received less than they should have, meaning households lost an average of £476 by not collecting additional benefits.

One example found a couple who had unclaimed benefits missed out on £143.43 a week through a combined £111.30 in pension credit and £32.13 on council tax reduction. When added up for the year, a total of £7,458 went unclaimed.

There are four key benefits for pensioners to consider, here’s what they are and how many didn’t claim the financial support.

Most common unclaimed pension benefits:

Guarantee Pension Credit: As it was claimed by just 47% of those applicable, households missed out on an average £1,671 boost for the year. This benefit is a gateway to receive other income support including housing costs, heating bills and free TV licences. This can top up your income by £201.05 a week for single pensioners and £306.85 for couples

Savings Pension Credit: Intended for pensioners with modest savings and low income, just 4% of pensioners were eligible for this. In 2023, no one eligible made a claim, meaning each pensioner lost an average of £473 a year.

Council Tax Reduction: Just one in five (19%) of those eligible claimed this, despite it being the benefit most could apply for and hence missed out on £874 a year.

Universal Credit: While eligibility rates for Universal Credit are low, only 33% took up this option, leaving households losing an extra £2,428 a year in unclaimed credit. Around a quarter of Just Group’s lifetime mortgage enquiries came from households aged under 66 years old, meaning many could have been eligible.

Further, nearly two-thirds (64%) of applicable pensioners missed one key pensioner benefit, 13% lost out on two and one in twenty (4%) didn’t claim any of the possible income boosts.

The insight was based on fact-finding interviews with Just’s clients seeking advice on equity release for last year. It showed nearly two-fifths (38%) were entitled to benefits, and 27% of those missing out on income lost at least £1000 in a year.

‘Missing out on pension credit is particularly problematic’

Stephen Lowe, group director at the retirement specialist Just Group, said: “Every year our research identifies benefits of a very significant value are not being claimed but would make a massive difference to those struggling with soaring living costs.”

“This year the proportion who are eligible for benefits but failing to claim is at its highest since 2014, while the money they are missing out on is the second largest amount in that 10-year period.”

Lowe added: “Nearly four in 10 households in our survey are eligible for one of the key benefits available to pensioners, but the majority are not claiming and even those who are often don’t apply for their full entitlement.

“Missing out on Pension Credit is particularly problematic because it is the gateway to a host of other benefits such as free NHS dental care, cold weather payments and a free TV licence for over-75s.”

Five ways to check your benefits entitlements

  1. The Government’s free, independent third-party benefit calculators – https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators.
  2. Local councils for information and financial help to pay rent or Council Tax.
  3. Charities such as Citizens Advice and Age UK.
  4. Free, impartial and independent guidance is available through the government-backed Pension Wise.
  5. Professional advisers will charge but can provide regulated advice alongside information about benefit eligibility.