Universal Credit is a new single benefit payment that will replace six existing benefits for people of working age.
Universal Credit is being introduced in NI on Wednesday 27 September 2017, starting in Limavady as part of a phased roll out approach on a geographical basis.
The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) will change the way couples are treated within the benefits system when one partner is over the qualifying age for Pension Credit (PC) and one is younger.
Currently, couples can claim Pension Credit as long as one partner has reached the qualifying age.
This will change for new claimants with the introduction of Universal Credit.
Under Universal Credit couples will only be able to claim Pension Credit when both have reached the qualifying age. If one person in a couple is under pension age, they must claim Universal Credit, rather than Pension Credit. This means they could have significantly less income on Universal Credit than they would have had if they were claiming Pension Credit.
Those already in receipt of Pension Credit will NOT be affected by the changes from Welfare Reform.
A six-week payment delay at the start of the process may also cause difficulties for older people who are already struggling to make ends meet as will the fact that the benefit will be paid monthly.
Age NI is concerned that the introduction of Universal Credit could increase pensioner poverty and put pressure on family relationships. The older partner may be financially better off living alone and claiming Pension Credit.