State Pension credits: Can grandparents claim credits for providing virtual childcare?

State Pension credits are tax-free means-tested benefits designed to help retired people on low incomes. For those who qualify it could see people get thousands each year. An estimated 1.5 million eligible households do not claim pension credits, but how can you claim credits for providing virtual childcare throughout the coronavirus pandemic?

What are State Pension credits?

State Pension credits are a income-related boost your retirement income for people aged over State Pension age.

Pension credit offers older people a weekly top-up to their income which you can choose to be paid fortnightly or every four weeks.

Pension credit is available to single pensioners, including widows and widowers, as well as couples.

More than three million households are eligible for the benefit across the UK according to the Government.


  • Grandparents can get £2,250 of state pension credits over the phone

It is made up of two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it is below £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for couples.

You may still be eligible if you have savings, a pension or own your home.

Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who have saved money towards their retirement, for instance, a pension.

How much could you get?

The amount of pension credit you get is dependent on your circumstances:

  • Single people can get a top-up of £173.75 a week of Guarantee Credit per week.
  • Single people can get a top-up of £13.97 a week of Savings Credit per week.
  • Couples can get a top-up of £265.20 of Guarantee Credit per week.
  • Couples can get a top-up of 15.62 of Savings Credit per week.

You can use this Pension Credit calculator to find out if you are eligible and work out how much you could get.

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  • Pension credit can now be claimed online

How has the coronavirus crisis impacted State Pension credits?

Grandparents are now entitled to claim valuable State Pension credit for helping parents with childcare during the crisis.

Many thousands of grandparents can claim credits worth around £260 a year typically.

But in these atypical circumstances, grandparents can still apply for this money for providing phone or virtual childcare.

The childcare rule never specified a set number of hours of childcare a grandparent needed to undertake.

But now the Government has confirmed grandparents are still permitted to apply or claim for pension credits if they are keeping children occupied in new virtual ways during the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years.

About 10,000 people last year claimed credits based on this childcare condition, which was a significant increase from 2016.

Experts have hailed the Government for clarity given how valuable a grandparent’s virtual childcare can be for a parent who is then able to work from home for a time.

How to claim State Pension credit

The quickest and easiest way to claim State Pension credit is to call the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 or apply online here.

If applying online you will need to have already claimed your State Pension and have to ensure there are no children or young people included in your claim.

When making a claim either over the phone or online, you will need:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Information about your income, savings and investments
  • Your bank account details.

The earliest time you can begin your application for Pension Credit is four months before you reach State Pension age.

But you can apply for it any time after you pass State Pension age, however, claims will only be backdated for three months from that date.

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