What is pension credit?
This is a scheme set up to guarantee everyone aged 60 and over an income of at least £142.70 a week if you are single and £217.90 if you have a spouse.
Firstly, applying for pension credits depends on your income and savings as they are ‘means tested’. Income from state and private pensions will count, but certain other state benefits, such as attendance allowance and housing benefit will not. You can call the department of work and pensions and from there you will have to complete an application form over the phone. This will then be sent to you for checking.
The age you can receive credits is gradually increasing from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020. You have to reach the qualifying age to receive the pension credits but you can still claim if your partner is under the qualifying age. So your husband, wife or your civil partner can claim.
You may also be entitled to receive savings credits if you are aged 65 and over, have made some provision towards your retirement, such as savings or a second pension, and you can receive this on its own or in addition to pension credits. These savings credits can be up to £18.54 if you are single and £23.73 if you have a partner.
Pension Credit Calculator
However the best way of finding out what you are entitled to is by using a pension credit calculator to get an estimate of how much pension credit you might get. Another way to apply for pension credit is by calling the pension service on 0800 169 0133. You will need your national Insurance number, information about your savings, investments, incomes and details of the account into which you would like any pension credit payments to be paid.
You may be entitled to more pension credit if you have caring responsibilities, have severe disabilities or have certain housing costs. These pension credits include help towards mortgage repayments and service charges for home owners.
So when is the best time to apply for a pension credit?
You must be at least 60 or within 4 months of your 60th birthday and the maximum period that your pension credit claim can be backdated is 3 months. You will also have to tell The Pension Service if you would like your credit to start from a past or future date.
What are the extra benefits?
If you are a parent who receives the full amount of pension credit you are entitled to free school meals or milk when it is provided. This is applied for through the education department or your local authority or governing bodies in the local area.
So how can you find out how much you are entitled to and how do I receive it?
To find out how much you are entitled to you can use an online calculator, providing you with an easy and understandable way to see how much you can receive. However this may change slightly if your circumstances change, as the calculator depends on the input you provide. This estimate may be incorrect if you input incorrect information or incomplete information or your circumstances, rules or benefits change. If you feel, however, the calculations you receive do not accurately reflect your circumstances you can contact the Pension Credit helpline directly.
Income that is taken into account when applying for pension credits are working tax credits, earning after tax and expenses from employment or self employment, social security benefits, occupational and private pensions and state pensions.
Income that does not count towards pension credits includes attendance allowance, disability allowances, war widow’s supplementary pension, Christmas bonuses and exceptionally severe disablement allowance.
These payments are made through direct payment by the Social Security Agency, providing a convenient and efficient method of paying money into your bank account.