Means-tested benefits

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The amount of income and capital you have can affect your eligibility for means-tested benefits.

Different means-testing rules apply, depending on whether you're under or over the minimum state pension age. The information on this page only applies to people over the current minimum state pension age (rising from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020).

Pension Credit

For Pension Credit, there is no upper limit of capital above which you cannot claim the benefit. Savings or capital up to £10,000, and any income generated by those savings, are ignored. You will be treated as having ‘assumed income’ of £1 for every £500 (or part of £500) of capital you have above £10,000.

Housing Benefit

The lower capital limit for Housing Benefit is £10,000. If you have savings or capital of up to £10,000 these, and any income you receive from these savings, are ignored. You will be treated as having assumed income on capital above £10,000 as set out above.

Unlike Pension Credit, Housing Benefit also has an upper capital limit, which is £16,000. If you have more than this capital limit you will not be entitled to any Housing Benefit, unless you qualify for Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Valuation of capital

Your capital is generally assessed at its present-day value. If there would be expenses involved in selling your capital, 10% of its value will be deducted.
Any capital you own jointly with other people (besides your spouse, civil partner or partner) will normally be divided equally between the joint owners.

Capital taken into account

  • Cash
  • Money in bank or building society accounts, including current accounts that do not pay interest
  • National Savings accounts and certificates (there are special rules for valuing these)
  • Income bonds
  • Stocks and shares
  • Property (other than your own home)
  • Premium Bonds
  • A share of any savings you own jointly with other people.

Some types of capital are ignored. This includes the value of the property you live in, if you own it, and any lump sum payments you received after deferring your State Pension.

Income taken into account

Some types of income are taken into account in full for means-tested benefits. Other types of income are disregarded in part.

  • Pensions
  • Earnings
  • Income from annuities
  • Most social security benefits
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Assumed income from savings
  • Income from boarders or sub-tenants
  • Maintenance payments from a spouse or ex-spouse.

Free benefit check

If you, or an older person you know needs advice, information or practical support on a wide range of issues including welfare benefits, community care, housing and health, contact the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575 to speak to a specialist advisor in confidence. Our advisors can provide a free benefit check to ensure that older people are accessing the benefits they are entitled to. 

Every year our Advice Service deals with thouands of calls from older people in need. Call the Age NI Advice Service today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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