While the state pension is a contributory benefit, Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit. It is income-related, and made up of two parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
The former, Guarantee Credit, tops up a person’s weekly income if this is below £173.75 (for single people) and £265.20 (for couples).
It’s something which a person may still be eligible for even if they have savings, a pension, or own their own home.
Meanwhile, Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example via a pension.
It may be that if a person reached state pension age on her after April 6, 2016, they may not be eligible for Savings Credit.
Pension Credit doesn’t count as taxable income, while the state pension does.
According to figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last month, around one million eligible families did not claim Pension Credit in the year 2018 to 2019.
This amounted to £1.8billion going unclaimed – working out at £1,700 per family per year.
Becky O’Connor, Head of Pensions & Savings for interactive investor, said: “There was a slight uptick in the number of people claiming Pension Credit in 2019. However ‘up to one million’ families missing out on around £1,700 a year remains a huge gap in benefit uptake among those who need it.
“More needs to be done to help vulnerable older people access this money, particularly as many are isolated at home during local lockdowns, and may be missing posters from the government’s awareness campaign.
“A simple letter in the post to eligible households may be more effective in improving take-up, as well as information to younger relatives who can help with claims.”
A person can find out whether they’re eligible for Pension Credit via the government’s Pension Credit calculator.
Furthermore, this tool can show how much the individual can get.
It may be claiming Pension Credit unlocks other forms of financial support – such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and Cold Weather Payments.
It can also open up access to help with costs of NHS services.
For instance, if a person receives Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, or if their partner does, they will be entitled to free NHS prescriptions.
Furthermore, anyone who is under the age of 20 who is a dependant of a Pension Credit Guarantee Credit recipient will also be entitled to free NHS prescriptions.
It’s possible to check eligibility for free prescriptions and support for other NHS costs via the “Check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs” tool on the government website.
According to the NHS, this service should take around three minutes.
It’s important to take care when claiming an exemption from NHS charges.
This is because those who have incorrectly claimed exemption from the charges could face having to pay the fee, as well as a penalty charge of up to £100.