‘Couldn’t afford to boil kettle’ – then woman, 82, got THIS benefit – ‘more must claim’
Pension Credit: Expert discusses those not claiming benefit
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Like millions of pensioners, Londoner Veronica Fenn, 82, is trying everything to save money as living costs soar. “I have little tricks like heating my coffee in the microwave rather than using the kettle, and restricting how often I use my oven,” she says.
Veronica used to work in the fashion industry, and uses her knowledge experience to make other savings. “I developed an eye for good fabric which helps me to buy clothes in charity shops.”
She also bought a pair of glasses for £2 and fitted her prescription lenses into the frames. “Going to the opticians would have cost me 50 times as much.”
When it’s cold, she piles on the sweaters instead of using heaters. “Having a smart meter really helps as I can tell how much money my power is costing each day.”
Like many pensioners, Veronica never considered she would be able to get more support from the state.
She didn’t even know State Pension top-up Pension Credit existed until a friend saw she was struggling and told her about campaigning charity Independent Age, which pointed her in the right direction.
Veronica is far from alone. More than 850,000 of the very poorest pensioners fail to claim a valuable means-tested State Pension called top-up Pension Credit.
This tops up the incomes of the poorest pensioners to £182.60 if they are single or £278.70 for couples, in the 2022/23 tax year.
Applicants must have reached State Pension age of 66. They may qualify even if I have some savings or income. Even homeowners on low incomes may be eligible.
Some may get extra money if they have other responsibilities and costs, such as caring duties.
Those with a severe disability might get an extra £67.30 a week, if they claim Attendance Allowance, the middle or the highest rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
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Pension credit acts as a gateway to other support, including housing benefit for tenants, mortgage interest support for homeowners, council tax reduction, a free TV licence for over 75s, help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments, and heating support, too.
Now Veronica is keen to raise awareness so more pensioners can access it. “Seeking help doesn’t come naturally to my generation, but it’s so important for people to know what support is out there.”
Her experience has shown her that the State Pension simply isn’t enough for people to live on, especially today as living costs soar.
“Pension Credit is vitally important to me, but even with this essential top up, I still have to conserve money where I can.”
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Veronic says that much more could be done to support older people but adds: “You can still enjoy life while saving money. It’s so important to wake up and think ‘I’m going to do this today.”
Claimants can apply for Pension Credit up to four months before they reach the State Pension age. It pays to act fast, as applications can only be backdated three months.
Apply online at Gov.uk, by post or call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.
Pension credit has the lowest uptake of any income-related benefit, with £1.7 billion lying unclaimed each year.
Morgan Vine, head of policy and influencing at Independent Age, said this is “scandalous”: “Too many are having to choose whether to heat their home or buy food, despite being eligible for financial support.”
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