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Brenda KearnsImportant changes taking place to Pension Credit on 6 April may adversely affect the benefit entitlements of older people. Age NI is urging those who might be affected to contact the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575.

Brenda Kearns, Head of Advice & Advocacy at Age NI, said, 'Age NI has received a number of calls about Pension Credit, a benefit that helps top up your income each week. However, the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit, which you receive if you have some savings or your income is higher than the basic State Pension, is being abolished. Anyone who reaches State Pension age after 6 April 2016 cannot claim this benefit. This may result in a significant reduction in an older person’s weekly income. Those who are currently in receipt of Savings Credit, and whose personal circumstances remain unchanged, will continue to receive it.’

‘Another significant change that may affect older people with regards to claiming Pension Credit will be that both members of a couple must be over pension age to be eligible. If one person is under pension age, the couple will have to claim the new Universal Credit, when it is introduced here. Any couples currently receiving Pension Credit will continue to do so. There is no limit to the amount of savings someone can have in order to receive Pension Credit.’

‘Almost half of all older people in Northern Ireland are entitled to Pension Credit, yet around a third of those eligible are not claiming, meaning that thousands of people are not getting the financially support they need. We’d like to stress that Pension Credit is worth claiming, even if you’re entitled to only a small amount, as it can often help you qualify for other benefits such as Housing Benefit.’

‘With so many changes taking place to the benefits system, it’s little wonder that people are confused. The Age NI Advice Service can help. Our team of experienced advisors are here to listen to your concerns, and to help take the confusion out of an issue. We’ll provide you with a free benefits check to help you find out what financial support you’re entitled to, and support you to apply. It is imperative that people prepare for any changes now by finding out exactly what they can claim prior to the 6 April.’

If you, or someone you know, is concerned about the impact of changes to Pension Credit, and its affect on you or your family, please contact the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 in confidence.

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575

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