Millions Missing Out on Pension Benefits, Pensioner Groups Warn
By Tony Bonsignore, Citywire
August 27, 2008
Millions of pensioners are potentially missing out on valuable cash benefits to which they are legally entitled, the government and pensioner groups said today.
And those who fail to apply for Pension Credits before 6 October risk missing out on up to one year's backdated payments, pensioners are being warned.
Pensions minister Mike O'Brien said many older people still mistakenly believed that owning a house or having some savings automatically disqualified them from eligibility for pension credits.
Some 2.7million pensioner households receive pension credit at an average of around £50 a week. The government’s stated goal is that no pensioner over the age of 60 should live on less than £124.05 a week.
However, some estimates put the value of unclaimed pension credits at up to £5 billion a year. The government is planning to write to around 250,000 elderly people over the next few weeks to encourage them to claim.
‘It's vital that older people claim money that's rightfully theirs to help with their day-to-day needs,’ O'Brien said, adding that those who claim before 6 October could earn up to a year's backdated credits. After that date new rules will limit the amount of back-dated claims.
Mervyn Kohler, special adviser at Help the Aged said tackling pensioner poverty was an urgent issue, and ‘claiming benefits which belong in older people's pockets is crucial to that’.
‘Help the Aged estimates that around £5 billion worth of benefits are left unclaimed each year,’ Kohler said, ‘and that 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.
‘Claiming Pension Credit before 6 October could lead to those older people who are eligible getting up to a year's back-dated payment.’ Kohler added.
Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said millions of pensioners were missing out on up to £5 billion in Pension Credit and other unclaimed benefits.’
This could make a ‘huge difference to their quality of life’, he said.
‘With the rules on backdating of benefits changing in October, we would urge any older person struggling to make ends meet to make a claim now to ensure they don't lose out on cash that's rightfully theirs,’ he added.
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