NEARLY one million people must check now to see if they can claim the £301 cost of living payment, or risk missing out.

Retirees have just one week left to check to apply for pension credit and still qualify for the first part of the £900 payment.

Pension credit is seen as a gateway benefit as it often means claimants can get extra help


Pension credit is seen as a gateway benefit as it often means claimants can get extra helpCredit: Alamy

Applicants have until May 19 to put in their claim for pension credit.

If it’s any time after, you’ll miss out on the first cost of living payment.

Pensioners can check their eligibility and get an estimate of what they may receive by using an online pension credit calculator.

You don’t need to be in receipt of the state pension to receive it.

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It tops up a person’s income to a minimum of £201.05 per week for single pensioners and to £306.85 for couples or more if a person has a disability or caring responsibilities.

Pension credit is sometimes described as a “gateway benefit”, because even a small pension credit award can provide access to a wide range of other benefits.

This can include help with housing costs, council tax or heating bills – in addition to the extra cost of living payments.

Earlier this week UK Times revealed that one woman is now £10,000 better off after discovering she could get pension credit.

Thabani was living off just £320 a month before claiming and now gets £109.61 week extra and has boosted her income by more than £10,000 in total since she started claiming nearly two years ago.

She also found she was eligible for attendance allowance payments as her daughter, Khwezi, has to care for her due to her Osteoarthritis and high blood pressure.

Around 1.4 million pensioners receive pension credit, but many who could be eligible are not claiming this extra financial help.

You can claim the benefit online or by calling the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

Before you make a claim it’s important to have all your details on hand.

You’ll need your National Insurance number, bank account details and information about your income, savings and investments.

Below we explain who is eligible for pension credit, how much you’ll get, how to apply and how you’ll be paid.

Who is eligible for pension credit?

It is available for people who are over the state pension age, and who live in England, Scotland or Wales.

This is currently rising to 66 for both men and women.

It used to be the case that couples, where one person was over state pension age, could claim, but new rules now mean that both people in a couple must be over retirement age to apply.

This means if you’re single and move in with a partner who is younger than the state pension age, you will stop being eligible.

But if you’re already receiving pension credit under the old system it won’t stop unless your circumstances change.

To qualify, you’ll need to have a weekly income of less than £201.05 for single people or £306.85 for couples.

Your income is worked out taking into account various elements including:

  • Your state pension
  • Any other pensions you have saved, for instance, workplace or private pension savings
  • Most social security benefits, for example, carer’s allowance
  • Any savings or investments worth over £10,000
  • Earnings from a job

The calculation does not include:

  • Attendance allowance
  • Christmas bonus
  • Disability living allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction

If your income is too high to get pension credit, you may still get some savings pension credit, so it’s worth checking.

How much can you get in pension credit?

There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts – here are the current rates for the tax year:

  • Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £201.05 a week if you’re single and £306.85 a week for married couples.
  • Savings credit – provides extra money if you’ve saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £15.94 a week for a single person or £17.84 a week for a married couple.

You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

For instance, you can get either £61.88 a week or £72.31 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.

If you are disabled or care for someone who is disabled, you may get more.

For example, if you have a severe disability you could get an extra £76.40 a week or if you care for another adult you could get an extra £42.75 a week.

How do I apply?

You can start your application up to four months before you reach state pension age.

Applications for pension credit can be made on the government website or by ringing the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

You can get a friend or family member to ring for you, but you’ll need to be with them when they do.

You’ll need the following information about you and your partner if you have one:

  • National Insurance number
  • Information about any income, savings and investments you have
  • Information about your income, savings and investments on the date you want to backdate your application to (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached state pension age)

If you claim after you reach pension age, you can backdate your claim for up to three months.

How will I be paid?

Your benefits are usually paid into an account, for instance, a bank account.

They’re usually paid every four weeks.

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You’ll be asked for your bank, building society or credit union account details when you claim.

But if you have problems opening or managing an account, you might be able to claim a different way.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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