Urgent warning for thousands on state pension to act now or miss out on £324 free cash

2DEWDXK Sad senior lady reading utility bill, bank account balance notification or novel rejection letter

PENSIONERS on low income have been warned to act now or risk missing out on £324 in free cash.

Millions of people eligible for the Government’s £650 cost of living payment started receiving the second chunk worth £324 last month.

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are missing out on a valuable benefit

To get the second payment, you will need to have been in receipt of any one of the eligible benefits, including pension credit, for any day in the period from August 26 to September 25, 2022.

But it doesn’t matter if pensioners have only discovered that they might be eligible for pension credit – one of the qualifying benefits.

Pension credit claims can be backdated by three months, which means that if you make a claim now you could still qualify.

Age UK is now urging retirees to check if they’re eligible for pension credit before it’s too late.

The last date for applying in order to qualify for the £324 payment is December 18, the charity said.

Pension credit is designed to boost your income if you’re over the state pension age and on a low income.

On top of the government’s cost of living payment, pension credit also makes you eligible for other support such as the Warm Home Discount scheme worth £150 a year and help with council tax.

The benefit could be worth more than £3,300 a year.

We’ve explained how you can apply for pension credit below.

Age UK said a third (34%) of pensioners eligible to claim the benefit are still missing out.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We know that around 770,000 pensioner households are still missing out on Pension Credit and it’s likely that every one of them is struggling to manage their escalating bills at the moment.

“We’re urging anyone who’s finding it hard to pay for the basics such as food and energy to get in touch for a benefits check – claims must be made by mid-December in order to meet the cut-off date for eligibility for the extra payment.”

How much can you get in pension credit?

There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:

  • Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £182.60 a week if you’re single and £278.70 a week for married couples.
  • Savings credit – provides extra money if you’ve saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £14.48 a week for a single person or £16.20 a week for a married couple.

You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

For instance, you can get either £56.35 a week or £66.85 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.

If you are disabled or care for someone who is disabled, you may get more.

For example, if you have a severe disability you could get an extra £69.40 a week or if you care for another adult you could get an extra £38.85 a week.

Who is eligible?

It is available for people who are over the state pension age, and who live in England, Scotland or Wales.

This is currently 66 for both men and women, but is expected to rise to 67 by 2028.

It used to be the case that couples, where one person was over state pension age, could claim, but new rules now mean that both people in a couple must be over retirement age to apply.

This means if you’re single and move in with a partner who is younger than the state pension age, you will stop being eligible.

But if you’re already receiving pension credit under the old system it won’t stop unless your circumstances change.

To qualify, you’ll need to have a weekly income of less than £182.60 for single people or £278.70 for couples.

Your income is worked out taking into account various elements including:

  • Your state pension
  • Any other pensions you have saved, for instance, workplace or private pension savings
  • Most social security benefits, for example, carer’s allowance
  • Any savings or investments worth over £10,000
  • Earnings from a job

The calculation does not include:

  • Attendance allowance
  • Christmas bonus
  • Disability living allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction

If your income is too high to get pension credit, you may still get some savings pension credit, so it’s worth checking.

How do I apply?

You can start your application up to four months before you reach state pension age.

Applications for pension credit can be made on the government website or by ringing the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

You can get a friend or family member to ring for you, but you’ll need to be with them when they do.

You’ll need the following information about you and your partner if you have one:

  • National Insurance number
  • Information about any income, savings and investments you have
  • Information about your income, savings and investments on the date you want to backdate your application to (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached State Pension age)

If you claim after you reach pension age, you can backdate your claim for up to three months.

How will I be paid?

Your benefits are usually paid into an account, for instance, a bank account.

They’re usually paid every four weeks.

You’ll be asked for your bank, building society or credit union account details when you claim.

But if you have problems opening or managing an account, you might be able to claim a different way.