People of state pension age have been urged to check if they can claim Pension Credit, with claimants getting on average £1,900 a year.
The benefit tops up the income of a single person or a couple on a low income, and can increase a household’s income by more than £3,500 a year.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told Express.co.uk the benefit could be a huge help to pensioners struggling with the rising cost of living.
She said: “Despite its considerable financial benefit, a third (34 percent) of pensioners eligible to claim Pension Credit are still missing out – a huge concern, especially as the cost of living continues to rise.
“The Government’s own figures show that 770,000 eligible pensioner households (single people or couples) are not receiving their Pension Credit payments, worth around £1.5billion every year.
“We know that a successful claim – worth an average of £1,900 a year per household – could be life-changing, giving people the confidence to buy the groceries they need, without skimping for fear of running out of money.”
The benefit tops up a person’s weekly income to £201.05 for single people and up to £306.85 for couple claimants.
Extra payments are also available depending on a person’s situation, such as if they care for another adult.
Ms Abrahams encouraged hard-up pensioners not to be put off reaching out for the support. She said: “Once people have reached retirement, they often have little opportunity to increase pension income or savings, however, they may be able to improve their financial situation by claiming social security entitlements.
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“Worryingly, many miss out – the latest estimates show around £2.4billion of Pension Credit and Housing Benefit alone are unclaimed by pensioners in a single year in Great Britain.
“Older people may not know what is available for them, may feel they are not entitled to any help, may be put off by the claim process, or struggle on alone reluctant to ask for help.”
Pension Credit also provides access to other Government support such as council tax reductions and a free TV licence for claimants aged 75 and over.
People on Pension Credit may also be eligible for a £900 cost of living payment which is going out in three instalments over this tax year.
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The first £301 payment has already gone out with the second £300 instalment to be paid in autumn 2024 and the third £299 payment in spring 2024.
The full basic state pension is currently £156.20 a week while the full new state pension is £203.85 a week.
People may want to check if they can increase their payments by voluntarily paying their National Insurance contributions. A person typically needs 35 years of NI contributions to get the full new state pension.
A person may have gaps in their record because they were living abroad for a while or they were not earning enough to pay National Insurance contributions.
Britons can usually top up their contributions as far back as six years ago, but at present people can do so as far back as 2007/2008.
This week the Government extended the deadline for people to up their contributions over this extended period, until April 2025. After the deadline, people will be able to top up their contributions only as far back as the usual six years.
Interactive investor calculated that somebody purchasing 10 years of Class 3 NI contributions at a cost of £9,070, could increase their state pension by £77,400 over a 20-year retirement, or £33,946 over 10 years and £15,927 over five years.
A person who purchased six years of contributions for £5,442 could get £46,440 over 20 years, £20,368 over 10 years and £9,556 over five years.
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