Apply for Pension Credit: entitlement age, how to qualify for it
Pension Credit can be a welcome additional source of income for retirees, though many are currently missing out as they don’t even realise they’re eligible for it. There are different kinds of Pension Credit available to help you pay those extra costs, such as energy bills. Below you will find all the info you’ll need to understand what benefits you can get, as well as help on how to apply for Pension Credit.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is a tax-free, means-tested benefit for those over the UK state pension age. For those on a low income, this can be a useful source of additional retirement income to help stave off fuel poverty. Read on to see if you qualify for Pension Credit and how you can apply.
If you need help with heating bills and prescription glasses, then Pension Credit can make your life easier. You will receive the Cold Weather Payment without having to apply for it, and may also be eligible to receive financial assistance when it comes to health expenses such as glasses and dental care. You may also be eligible for council tax reduction.
How much Pension Credit can I claim?
The weekly amount you can claim depends on your own personal circumstances and whether you are single or applying with a partner. There are two parts to Pension Credit:
- Guarantee Credit: If you are single, Pension Credit will top up your weekly earnings to £173.75 per week, if your income is less than this amount. For those who are married or in a civil partnership, your weekly income will be topped up to £265.20 per week through Guarantee Credit.
- Savings Credit: You can claim Savings Credit if you have saved some money towards your retirement, such as a pension other than the State Pension. This rewards those who have saved towards their retirement and amounts to a maximum of £13.97 per week for single applicants and £15.62 per week for those who are married or with a civil partner. However, the more savings you have, the less savings credit you will receive.
|Your circumstances||Guarantee Credit per week||Savings Credit per week|
|Single people||Top up to £177.10||Up to £14.04|
|Couples||Top up to £270.30||Up to £15.71|
*If you are disabled, a carer or still paying housing costs such as a mortgage, you may also be able to claim more guarantee credit.
Who can claim pension credit?
It can be difficult to navigate all the government requirements when it comes to pension credit. Read on to get all the information you need.
What age do you have to be to get pension credit?
Your eligibility for Pension Credit depends on a few different factors. For Guarantee Credit you (and your partner, if applicable) must be above the Pension Credit qualifying age at the time of application. You can find out if this applies to you by using the State Credit calculator on Gov.uk.
To qualify for Savings Credit, you (and your partner, if applicable) must have reached State Pension age by 6th April 2016. This is an extra payment linked to retirement savings for those who became pensioners before the above date. Unfortunately, it was closed off due to government pension reform, which is why it isn't offered to everyone.
- In May 2019 the rules were adjusted for those applying as a couple. Couples will now only be able to claim Pension Credit under the following circumstances:
- Both partners have reached the Pension Credit Qualifying Age.
- One partner has reached the Pension Credit Qualifying Age and is claiming housing benefit for both.
Can you claim if you are in a care home?
Your eligibility for Pension Credit is assessed exactly the same if you are living in a care home as if you are living independently. If you already receive Pension Credit and then move into a care home, you should inform the Pension Service as soon as possible so it can recalculate your entitlement.
How much can you have in savings to claim pension credit?
Your Pension Credit application is based on your income. The following is assessed upon application:
- State Pension
- Any other pensions you may have
- Savings and investments over £10,000 - for these £1 is counted for every £500 or part £500
- Most social security benefits, such as Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Carere's Allowance
- Any paid work, either from an employer or from being self employed
However, the following is not included when assessing your total income:
- Housing Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Council Tax Reduction
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance
- Christmas bonuses
You can use the pension calculator on Gov.uk if you are unsure of how much state pension you will receive.
Is Pension Credit taxable?
Pension Credit is non-taxable, which means it can be completely disregarded when it comes to taxes and contributions,. It is also worth noting that it will not count towards any state benefits cap.
In fact, if you receive Pension Credit you will not have to worry about a benefit cap (this should apply to any working-age dependents too). If you have been paying Council Tax and are now eligible for Pension Credit, you may not have to contribute to this any more.
Can I have my Pension Credit backdated?
Unfortunately, with new rules that came into effect on 13th August 2019, you are no longer able to backdate your pension credit. Prior to this, you were able to backdate your claim for up to three months.
Why has my Pension Credit stopped?
If you are going on holiday, your Pension Credit will stop after four weeks abroad. If you decide to move permanently or for a longer period than four weeks, your Pension Credit will expire. If you are travelling abroad, it is definitely worth letting the Pension Credit Office know, no matter what, just to be on the safe side.
There are two exceptions to the four week limit:
- If you are on holiday abroad and your partner or a family member die, then the Pension Credit may be lengthened to eight weeks for bereavement.
- If you are receiving medical care abroad, your Pension Credit may be exceptionally extended for a period of up to six months.
You will need to inform the Pension Credit Office if you are leaving the UK for more than four weeks. The bottom line is that if you leave the UK for good, your Pension Credit will be stopped.
What other help can I get to pay my energy bills?
There could be extra money available through pension age Housing Benefit and Council Tax if you are renting or living in a hotel, hostel, board and lodgings or guest house. You should be contacted about this by your local authority when you make your initial claim for Pension Credit.
You may also be eligible for the Warm Home Discount to help cover your energy bills. You’ll receive a letter between October and December 2020 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.
You could also be entitled to grants or loans from your local authority or Jobcentre Plus to help cover certain expenses. It is best to get in touch with these authorities prior to your Pension Credit application to see what extra assistance may be available.
Want to reduce your energy consumption?
Find out how much you use and see where you can cut down
Estimate your annual energy use
Can pensioners claim Universal Credit?
In most cases, those who are entitled to Pension Credit are not able to claim Universal Credit, Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, as they do not meet the conditions of these benefits on age grounds.
The exception to this rule is for those in mixed-age couples, where one partner is below the Pension Credit qualifying age and the other has already reached it. In this case, you may have to claim Universal Credit until both partners have reached the qualifying age.
How do I apply for Pension Credit?
There are a couple of different ways to submit your pension credit application. Take a look and pick the one that is most convenient for you.
Apply for Pension Credit by telephone
Pension Credit Application Helpline
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
NGT text relay: 18001 then 0800 169 0133
*Freephone Monday to Friday: 8am-6pm
Make sure you have the following details with you when you call:
- Your National Insurance Number
- Information on all your income, savings and investments
- Your bank of building society account details
Apply for Pension Credit by post
If you prefer to apply for Pension Credit by post, you can ask a friend, family member or carer to call the telephone number above and request a paper application to be sent to you.