Pensioners should claim benefits to boost income
Published on 09 April 2016 12:01 AM
Age UK is urging all those missing out on the new state pension to check their entitlement.
Around three-quarters of all those reaching state pension age in the next 15 years stand to receive a notionally higher state pension under the new system, leaving many current pensioners who aren't eligible feeling short-changed, according to Age UK.
With the new system now in place, the Charity is urging all current pensioners - those who reached state pension age before the change came into effect last Wednesday (6 April) - to check if they can increase their income by claiming any money benefits they are entitled to.
Opinions divided over the new state pension
The introduction of the new state pension has divided opinion, with many current pensioners feeling aggrieved that they will miss out as only those reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016 will qualify.
Despite the evidence pointing to the new pension being less generous overall in the longer-term, figures show that the majority of ‘new' pensioners will benefit initially and around 650,000 women reaching state pension age over the next decade will be over £400 better off per year.
£3.7 billion in benefits go unclaimed
To help those who are struggling on a low income, Age UK is today calling on all current pensioners to find out if they are missing out on extra cash to top up their state pension.
Government figures show that every year millions of pensioners miss out on as much as £3.7 billion in money benefits, with many also forgoing benefits designed to help with the increased cost of having an illness and disability - this despite 1.6 million older people living in poverty, with around 900,000 of those living in severe poverty, and thousands more also struggling to afford everyday basics. With the guarantee part of Pension Credit increasing to £155.60 from this Monday (11 April), the Charity is advising all pensioners to check their entitlements and make a claim.
Many do not realise they're missing out on extra income
The Charity is warning that many of those missing out simply do not know that they could be entitled to extra income. Others are aware of the benefits available but feel too proud or embarrassed to put in a claim. Some have unsuccessfully tried before, or have been put off by the claiming process which they feel is too complicated or intrusive.
If all those eligible for Pension Credit alone made a claim, it could boost their budget on average by over £1,700 a year - that's an extra £33 a week to spend on essentials such as decent food, clothing, transport or heating.
Research shows that the state pension is the largest single source of income for most older people in the UK, with the vast majority having contributed to it throughout their working lives. In fact 47% of pensioner couples and 72% of single pensioners receive over half their income from the state pensions and benefits, while 6% of pensioner couples and 21% of single pensioners in receipt of the state pension have no other source of income.
That's why Age UK is calling for the government's ‘triple lock guarantee' to be extended beyond this parliament to provide financial security to older people now and in the future by ensuring that the state pension maintains its value over time.
Age UK is urging worried pensioners to contact its advice line
Age UK's Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, said: 'We fully support the introduction of the new state pension and would like to see existing pensioners brought into the new system if it would benefit them. In the meantime the government must make a concerted effort to help existing pensioners who are most in need.
'Ultimately we want to see pensioner poverty halved by 2020. Maintaining the triple lock and ensuring that the poorest pensioners receive all of the help that they're entitled to would go some way to achieving this and would make a huge difference to many lives.
'Every day at Age UK we help people to claim what they are entitled to, and every day we hear how much of a difference the money makes, how straightforward many people find the process with the help of an adviser, and how much less they have to worry about everyday bills. We would urge any older person who is worried about money to contact us in case they are one of the millions who are entitled to extra help.'
Any older person who is concerned about their state pension or worried about money should call Age UK Advice on freephone 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK office, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters.