MILLIONS of grandparents on the State Pension are getting a pay rise this week – and could get extra cash on top too.
Higher payment rates starting from this week could make some retirees better off by nearly £300 a year.
But it comes as the cost of living is rocketing, leaving many still feeling the pinch.
Benefit rates have increased by 3.1%, including the state pension, but inflation is far higher at 7% official figures out today reveal.
Pensioners feeling the squeeze could get extra help though, with those on the lowest incomes eligible for as much as £3,300 a year on top of their usual payments.
Pension Credit also unlocks a range of other support like £150 energy bill discount and free TV licence.
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Thousands of grandparents and others on State Pensions are thought to be missing out on this cash top up and extra perks.
With prices going up and incomes squeezed, it's more important than ever to check you're getting everything you're entitled to.
Here's how much more you'll get in State Pension payments from this week onwards – and how to claim extra help.
How much more State Pension will I get?
The exact amount of State Pension you get will depend on your entitlement.
This includes how many years of National Insurance contributions you've made and when you retired.
You may also get an amount based on a partner's entitlement.
Here are the weekly rates:
New State Pension
The full state pension rate of £179.60 has increased to £185.15 from April 11.
That's an extra £5.55 a week, or around £288 a year.
You usually need 35 years of NICs to get the maximum and at least 10 years to get anything at all.
If you don't have the full amount, the amount of state pension you get will be lower than the full rate.
Old State Pension
There are two different systems and the way the state pension works changed from April 6, 2016.
Those who reached state pension age before this date, get the old state pension, known as the basic state pension.
Under this system you may also get extra, and it's split into four categories – A, B, C, and D.
- Category A or B basic pension: was £137.60, now £141.85
- Category B (lower) basic pension – spouse or civil partner's insurance: was £82.45, now £85.00
- Category C or D – non-contributory: was £82.45, now £85.00
To get the full basic state pension you usually need 30 years of NICs. If you have less than this then the mount you get will be lower.
You may also be entitled to further amounts on top under the old system, known as Additional State Pensions.
If you've accrued National Insurance contributions under both the old and new systems, you'll receive a state pension based on a mix of both.
Both types of pension payments will rise from April 11, 2022 for the year ahead and the exact date you get it will depend on when you usually get paid your State Pension.
How to get extra cash through Pension Credit
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over the State Pension age and on a low income.
Typically, it is worth around £3,300 a year on average, and you can get extra help if you're a carer, disabled, or responsible for a child.
You can also get help with other day-to-day expenses such as council tax, your TV license and even housing costs.
You can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.
You can use the government's Pension Credit calculator to see if you're eligible.
There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:
- Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level.
- Savings credit – provides extra money if you've saved money towards retirement.
Whether you get the guarantee element of Pension Credit depends on your income, including your partner's if you live with them.
If you are eligible, then the government will top up your income to a minimum weekly amount, which varies depending on whether you're single or in a couple.
The minimum amounts also increased from April 11, 2022:
- Now £182.60 (up from £177.10) if you’re single
- Now £278.70 (up from £270.30) if you have a partner
If your income is lower than this, you should be eligible for the benefit.
You could get the ‘Savings Credit’ part of Pension Credit if both of the following apply:
- you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016
- you saved some money for retirement, for example a personal or workplace pension
This part of Pension Credit has increased from £14.04 a week to £14.48 or for couples, and from £15.71 to £16.20.
You might still get some Savings Credit even if you do not get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.
There are also top up amounts, for instance if you're caring for someone else or are disabled.
What extras can I get with Pension Credit?
There are extra amounts, depending on your circumstances.
If you have a severe disability you could get an extra £69.40 a week – you'll need to be getting one of the following benefits to qualify:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (the middle or highest amount for the care component)
- Personal Independence Payment (daily living component)
- Adult Disability Payment Personal Independence Payment (daily living component)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
If you care for someone else you could get an extra £38.85 a week if you're already getting Carer's Allowance.
If you have responsibility for children of young people you could get and extra £56.35 a week for each one, or £66.85 if they were born before April 6, 2017.
If they are disabled you could get an extra amount of between £30.58 a week and £95.48, depending on the severity of their condition.
You can check if you are eligiblefor the benefits which means you could get extra amounts by using a free benefits calculator, for example these are offered by charities such as Turn2Us and EntitledTo..
Pension credit is also really important because it gives people over state pension age access to a whole raft of other benefits on top.
Even if you get only pennies from the benefit itself, it's still worth claiming to get these extras, which include:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax reductions
- A free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- Help with NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, glasses and free transport costs for hospital appointments
- Help with your heating costs including cold weather payments
How to apply for pension credit
According to official government figures, almost a million eligible people are missing out on Pension Credit worth £938.63 on average.
To qualify, either you (or your partner if you live with one) must have reached State Pension Age.
You also need to live in England, Scotland or Wales
Your household income will be calculated when you apply, and if you fall short of the thresholds you will be awarded a top-up amount.
Your income includes:
- State Pension
- other pensions
- earnings from employment and self-employment
- most social security benefits, for example Carer’s Allowance
If you have £10,000 or less in savings and investments this will not affect your Pension Credit.
If you have more than £10,000, every £500 over £10,000 counts as £1 worth of weekly income.
You can start your application up to four months before you reach State Pension age.
You can apply any time after you reach State Pension age but your application can only be backdated by three months.
You can use the online service if:
- you have already applied for your State Pension
- there are no children or young people included in your application
You can apply online using the government service.
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Alternatively, you can apply by phone on the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.
To apply by post, print out and fill in the Pension Credit claim form or call the claim line to request one.
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