Pension Credit is a government benefit available to people who are on a low income while claiming the State Pension. If you’re eligible, you could receive over £3,000 a year in extra support, providing a much-needed boost in your retirement income as we see a rise in the cost of living.
Around 1.5 million people already claim Pension Credit. But many others who could claim it, don’t. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) believes up to £1.7bn in Pension Credit is left unclaimed every year.
That could make a big difference to a lot of people’s heating, council tax and food bills. So we’ve put together this article, to explain what Pension Credit is, who can claim it and how they can claim it. If you’re eligible for Pension Credit and not claiming it, hopefully it’ll help you.
What is Pension Credit in the UK?
Pension Credit is a top-up to the State Pension for those on the lowest incomes. It’s separate from the amount you receive in your State Pension.
If you are eligible, it’ll top up your retirement income to:
- £201.05 per week if you’re single
- £306.85 per week if you live with your partner
How do I know if I can get Pension Credit?
To claim Pension Credit, you’ll need to:
- Have reached State Pension age (or if you’re a couple, you’ll both need to have reached State Pension age)
- Live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
If you’re not sure whether you qualify for Pension Credit, it’s worth checking online or over the phone, even if you own your own home or have savings. And if you know someone who might be eligible but isn’t already claiming Pension Credit, starting a conversation about it might be a good idea.
As Lorna Shah, Managing Director, Legal & General Retail Retirement, says:
“One in three pensioners who could get Pension Credit, aren’t claiming it. The bottom line for people in retirement is paying for the basics, such as gas and electricity, and this weekly benefit means vital extra cash to help with day-to-day costs. In a cost-of-living crisis, this is a benefit that people need to know about. If you have loved ones of State Pension age, it’s worth checking whether they’re entitled to any form of Pension Credit. They could be missing out on vital support.”
How is Pension Credit calculated?
The Pension Credit you’ll receive depends on:
- Your level of income, such as from pensions, and any current employment
- The amount you have saved or invested
- Whether you live with your partner, as your savings and investments will be combined when you claim.
If you qualify for Pension Credit, you could also get help with heating bills, Council Tax plus Cost of Living Payments. If you're over 75, you'll also get a free TV licence.
How do I apply for Pension Credit?
Pension Credit isn’t automatically added to your State Pension, so you’ll need to apply over the phone, by post or on the DWP website. A friend or family member can complete the application for you over the phone.
To apply, you’ll need:
- Details about your income, investments and savings (your combined amount if you’re living with a partner)
- Your bank details
- Your National Insurance number
While you can claim any time after you reach State Pension age, you can only claim Pension Credit for the last three months. If you haven’t reached State Pension age yet, you can apply up to four months before you do, so you don’t miss out.
If you’re in England, Scotland or Wales, the Pension Service helpline is 0800 99 1234 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm).
If you’re in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Pension Centre on 0808 100 6165 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm).
Information correct as of May 2023.