According to Age UK: “Even if you own your home, you may still be eligible for Pension Credit. Nearly 9 out of 10 claims are successful and 2.5 million households across the UK receive Pension Credit.”

WARNING: New rules coming in this May will change which couples are eligible for pension credit so act now if you’re eligible. Some couples could lose £7,000 a year.

Until 14 May 2019, you can apply as a couple if one of you has reached pension credit qualifying age.

From 15 May, you will normally need to be of the pension credit qualifying age to apply for pension credit. For couples, you will both need to be over state pension age, or one of you needs to have reached state pension age and claim housing benefit for you as a couple.

Your existing claim won’t be affected, as long as you received pension credit on or before 14 May 2019, and you continue to be eligible.

Pension Credit is a weekly benefit to boost your income. It’s based on how much money you have coming in.

There are two parts to Pension Credit, called Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might get one or both parts.

Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a minimum amount.

Savings Credit is a small top-up for people who have a modest amount of income or savings. It’s only available if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

Pension Credit is decided by how much income you have (including your savings and the value of any property you own) as well as your age. You can still be working, but you do have to be living in the UK.

If you’ve been living in another country and looking to claim Pension Credit you’ll need to pass the habitual residence test.

If you’re not a UK or Irish national you’ll need to show you have a right to reside.

Unlike the State Pension, you don’t need a national insurance record.

Working out your Pension Credit:

You’ll need to meet the qualifying Pension Credit age to claim. This is the State Pension age.

You can use the Pension Credit calculator on GOV.UK to work out how old you need to be. This will ask for your date of birth.

Working out your income and savings:

It’s a good idea to gather everything you can about your weekly income before applying.

Common forms of income are:

  • money from a private pension
  • money you get from the State Pension
  • most earnings from an employer or from being self-employed – your earnings will be worked out as an average if they go up and down over the year
  • benefits such as JSA or ESA

You’ll also need to consider what savings and investments you have. This could include:

  • property you own except the home you live in
  • shares and other investments
  • money held in bank or savings accounts
  • Any savings or investments over £10,000 will affect the amount of Pension Credit you get. You’ll be treated as having £1 per week of income for every £500 above £10,000.

If your weekly income is below £163 then Guarantee Credit will top you up to that amount.

If you’re claiming as a couple and your income is below £248.80 it will be topped up to that amount. You don’t have to be married to claim as a couple. You can still claim if one of you is at State Pension age but the other isn’t.

If you’re claiming as a couple you’ll need the same information about your partner’s income.

Your income can be higher than £163 or £248.80 if you qualify for extra amounts such as the severe disability or carer’s addition. Your income can also be higher if you’re paying a mortgage.

Check if you can get additional amounts:

If you get other benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, your weekly Guarantee Credit amount can go over the minimum income threshold of £163.

If you’re eligible you can receive an extra amount for severe disability of £64.30 a week. Check if you’re eligible for the severe disability addition on GOV.UK.

The extra amount if you’re a carer is £36.00. You’ll get this if you or your partner receive Carer’s Allowance or have claimed for it and meet its conditions. Check if you’re eligible for the carer’s addition on GOV.UK.

You’ll need to have details of any benefits you receive if you use the Pension Credit calculator on GOV.UK.

Check if you can get Savings Credit:

Savings Credit is the second part of Pension Credit. It’s only available if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

The amount you can get depends on whether you meet the ‘savings credit threshold.’ You must have a weekly income of at least £140.67 a week if you’re single or £223.82 a week if you’re claiming as a couple.

The income rules are different to Guarantee Credit.

Don’t count any income you get from:

  • working tax credits
  • incapacity benefit
  • contributory ESA
  • contributory JSA
  • severe disablement allowance
  • maternity allowance
  • maintenance payments

The most you can get from Savings Credit is £13.40 a week if you’re single or £14.99 if you’re claiming as a couple.

It’s a good idea to use the Pension Credit calculator on GOV.UK before applying. You’ll be told whether or not you’re eligible and how to apply.

You can apply up to four months before you want to start receiving Pension Credit.

The quickest way is to call the Pension Service Tel 0800 731 0469.

Tom Togher

March 2019.