PENSION Credit claimants will receive larger payments within days as the benefit is increased.
The standard amount will increase by £436 per year for couples, while individuals will receive an additional £286 per year.
The Pension Credit is designed to help low-income retirees by giving them extra money to help cover living expenses.
Rates will increase by 3.1% from April, meaning couples will receive £278.70 per week instead of £270.30.
That’s an increase of £8.40 a week, or £436 over a year.
Singles will receive £182.60, compared to £177.10 – a difference of £5.50.
This represents an increase of £286 per year.
Anyone who receives additional paid items on top of their standard allowance will also see those rates increase by 3.1% from April.
This is one of many benefits that will increase next year, including Universal Credit, Maternity Allowance and even State Pension.
The amount you receive depends on your particular situation, including whether you have a partner, are disabled and have childcare responsibilities.
By how much will the additional pension credit elements increase?
If you have a severe disability you can receive up to £67.30 a week on top of your standard allowance.
From April this will increase to £69.40, an increase of just £2.10 per week.
If you’re a couple and you’re both severely disabled, the top-up goes from £134.60 to £138.80.
Caregivers can also get a refill which is currently worth £37.70 per week and will increase to £38.85 next month, just £1.15 per week more.
If you are caring for young children, you also get extra help.
For a first child born before April 6, 2017, the rate is £65.10 rising to £66.85. For subsequent children or those born after this date, the rate is lower at £54.60 and increases to £56.35 in April.
If your child has a disability, you can get a lower rate of £29.66 or a higher rate of £92.54 depending on the severity of the condition.
From April these rates increase to £30.58 and £95.48.
How much will the savings loan increase?
There is a second element of pension credit called savings credit, available to people who reached statutory retirement age before April 2016.
It’s a little extra money to reward people who have saved for retirement.
The maximum you can get is £14.04 per week if you are single and £15.71 per week if you are in a relationship. But those numbers also increase next year to £14.48 and £16.20.
For every pound of income you have above the savings threshold, your savings credit is reduced by 40p.
The threshold is £153.70 for singles and £244.12 for couples, but from April they will rise to £158.47 and £251.70 respectively.
You do not need to obtain a guaranteed pension credit to qualify for the savings credit.
How to apply for pension credit
According to official government figures, almost a million eligible people are deprived of a pension credit worth an average of £938.63.
To be eligible, you (or your partner if you live with one) must be of legal retirement age.
You must also live in England, Scotland or Wales
Your household income will be calculated during your application and if you do not reach the thresholds, you will receive an additional amount.
Your income includes:
- State pension
- other retreats
- income from employment and self-employment
- most social security benefits, e.g. care allowance
If you have £10,000 or less in savings and investments this will not affect your pension credit.
If you have more than £10,000, every £500 over £10,000 counts as £1 of weekly income.
You can start your application up to four months before you reach state retirement age.
You can apply anytime after reaching state retirement age, but your application can only be backdated by three months.
You can use the online service if:
- you have already applied for your state pension
- there are no children or young people included in your application
You can apply online using the government service.
Alternatively, you can make a claim by telephone on the Pension Credit Claim Line on 0800 99 1234.
To apply by mail, print and complete the Pension Credit Application Form or call the Claims Line to request one.
Pension Credit entitles you to many more benefits, including rent assistance, council tax reductions and even free TV licenses, so it’s worth claiming – even if you only get a few cents.
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