Pensions minister Mike OBrien is urging older people to check their entitlement to pension credit as they may be able to claim up to a years backdated benefits as a lump sum up until October 6.
The Department for Work and Pensions is writing to 250,000 people who may be entitled to the credit to encourage them to claim. Help the Aged estimates that millions of pensioners are missing out on up to 5bn of benefits each year.
OBrien says many older people mistakenly believe that owning their own home or having savings will automatically rule out entitlement to the credit to top up their income, but 2.7 million pensioner households claim an average 50 per week to ensure their weekly income does not fall below 124 per week.
OBrien says: Its vital that older people claim money thats rightfully theirs to help with their day-to-day needs. Dont delay if you claim before October 6 you could also get up to a years backdated Pension Credit.
As well as pension credit, pensioners may also be able to claim housing benefit, council tax benefit or help with heating and insulation costs.
Help the Aged special adviser Mervyn Kohler says: Pensioner poverty is a real issue which must be tackled urgently – and claiming benefits which belong in older people’s pockets is crucial to that.
The money could make a huge difference to the living standards of pensioners everywhere, many of whom are really struggling with the soaring cost of basics such as food and fuel.