Welsh charity helped older people claim more than £6.5 million in benefits last year
Published on 10 May 2019 04:39 PM
Age Cymru launches most recent version of its popular guide More Money In Your Pocket
Age Cymru helped older people in Wales claim more than £6.5m in benefits last year; additional income that could have a massive impact on the quality of life for those individuals who came forward seeking help.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as it’s estimated that more than £3.5 billion of state benefits available to older people in the UK goes unclaimed each year. In Wales this would equate to approximately £175 million of unclaimed benefits; a significant amount of money that could help bring about positive changes to thousands of older people in Wales.
Additionally, a recent study by the National Assembly for Wales found that more than 120,000 older people in Wales are living in poverty. (i)
To help combat such levels of poverty amongst older people, Age Cymru has updated More Money In Your Pocket for 2019/2020; a bi-lingual guide to help older people and their carers claim benefit entitlements in later life.
The guide covers a wide range of benefits including state pensions, council tax, and heating costs. There’s also advice on claiming specific entitlements such as Attendance Allowance, Pension Credit and Carers’ Allowance.
Gavin Thomas, who manages the charity’s information and advice services across Wales says: “Poverty can have a devastating effect on an older person’s quality of life forcing many to choose between eating and heating. It can also keep an older person trapped in their homes leading to loneliness and isolation and, in many cases, poor mental and physical health.”
“Some people miss out on benefits because they mistakenly believe they don’t qualify or are put off by the claims process.
“However, older people might be surprised to learn what help is available to them. I would urge any older person in Wales to claim all their benefit entitlements and to use our guide as a useful tool to start the process.”
More Money In Your Pocket is available free of charge from Age Cymru and local partners throughout Wales. You may call the Advice Line free on 08000 223 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy. The charity’s expert advisers can also carry out a full benefits check to find out what you might be entitled to claim.
Age Cymru offers a range of information guides and factsheets on many other topics listed in a free guide that you can download from: www.agecymru.org.uk/moneyguides.
The following case study is based on a real life example of an older couple who contacted a local Age Cymru partner for support during 2018 (figures below relate to that financial year).
Jack is 82 and lives with his wife Gwen who is 73. Jack has suffered six heart attacks and has several other debilitating diseases. As a result he has limited mobility and little stamina so rarely leaves his home.
An Age Cymru support worker met the couple and undertook a full benefits check. They found that Jack was getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) higher rate mobility component and lower rate care component. However, Jack's care needs had increased and he was relying on his wife a lot more than he had previously. Therefore, the support worker felt that he may now qualify for the highest rate of the DLA care component. The support worker had also established that Gwen was already in receipt of Attendance Allowance.
The support worker helped Jack to complete the DLA review forms and they were successful in getting the increased rate. As a result of this the support worker then further helped the couple by assisting them to complete online Carers Allowance forms (as they had an 'underlying entitlement' to this benefit, due to the DLA and AA they received). Finally, once this was in place, the support worker assisted them to apply for Pension Credit.
In summary, Jack was awarded the highest rate of the DLA care component at £85.60 per week; Pension Credit for the couple was awarded at £119.00 a week and their Council Tax payments were reduced from £155 to £25 a month. They also received a number of backdated amounts, totalling £5587.46.
As a result, their life has changed for the better. They can now afford to pay for food and heating and can also pay for transport if they need to go somewhere and therefore no longer feel trapped in their home.