Changes to Pension Credit entitlement

Pension Credit is the main means-tested benefit for pensioners. It was introduced in October 2003 and tops up income of those below a certain threshold.

There are two parts to the benefits Guaranteed Credit and Savings Credit:

  • Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £163 (for single people) or £248.80 (for couples)
  • Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension

Legislation links it to the State Pension age for men and women. This reached 65 for women – equal with that for men – in November 2018.

The Pension Credit qualifying age is now rising to reach 66 by October 2020, in line with the State Pension.

Important changes to pension credit

The Coalition Government legislated in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to change the rules so that in future both partners would need to have reached qualifying age in order to claim.

Until 15 May 2019, ‘mixed age’ couples (where one is over and one under Pension Credit qualifying age) have a choice as to whether to claim Pension Credit or a working age benefit. This is because the requirement to have reached Pension Credit qualifying age only applies to the claimant.

What happens after 15 May if I already get Pension Credit and I’m in a couple?

You’ll continue to get Pension Credit after 15 May 2019. If your entitlement stops for any reason, for example your circumstances change, you cannot start getting it again until you (or your partner) are eligible under the new rules.

What happens after 15 May if I already get Pension Credit and I’m single?

From 15 May 2019, you’ll stop getting Pension Credit if you start living with a partner who is under Pension Credit qualifying age. You can start getting it again when your partner reaches Pension Credit qualifying age.

What happens after 15 May if I don’t already get Pension Credit and I’m in a couple?

If you do not reach the qualifying age before 15 May and your partner does not receive it either and is younger than you, then you will not receive Pension Credit until your partner also reaches the qualifying age. 

If you don't already claim, are over 65 or will be before 14 May, have a younger partner and meet the income criteria, make sure you apply by 14 May 2019.

What happens if I reach qualifying age before 15 May and I’m on my own or part of a couple?

If an individual or a couple have reached the qualifying age before the change in May, this will be backdated and you will have up to three months to claim.

If you are worried about these changes or want to check your eligibility for Pension Credit then you can contact the Welfare Changes Helpline on 0808 802 0020.

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