Getting to grips with pension credit

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Q. I am in receipt of my State Pension and I get Attendance Allowance, would I be entitled to Pension Credit?

A. Pension Credit is a benefit that is based on the other income you receive.

It can be divided into Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit.

When you apply for Pension Credit, the Pension Service will first work out if you are entitled to any guarantee credit, and if so how much. They will then look at whether you can get any savings credit.

Guarantee credit

If you’re a woman, you can claim guarantee credit when you reach State Pension age.

If you’re a man, you can claim guarantee credit when you reach the State Pension age of a woman born on the same day as you.

Your weekly income (which includes your partner’s income if you live with your partner) is compared to a fixed weekly amount called the ’appropriate minimum guarantee’.

At present this means if you are single and your income is below £155.60 weekly or £237.55 for a couple, it will be topped up to at least this amount.

This amount could vary as in some circumstances it can include elements for carers and if you are disabled. The rates of the different elements are fixed and are usually increased every April.

Only certain types of income count for Pension Credit and not all your income will be taken into account. For example, child maintenance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance are all fully disregarded as income.

Pension Credit does not have a capital limit, instead savings above £10,000 will be treated as if they add £1 a week to your income for every extra £500 of savings (or part of £500).

If your income is more than your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’, you will not get any guarantee credit, but you may still get some savings credit.

Guarantee credit and housing costs

If you have a mortgage or home loan, you may be able to get an extra amount to help with your mortgage interest. You may also be able to get help towards some other housing costs, for example, ground rent for long leases and some service charges.

Savings credit

Most people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 won’t be eligible for savings credit. But you may continue to get savings credit if both of the following apply:

You’re in a couple and one of you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016

You were getting Savings Credit up to 6 April 2016

If you or your partner are aged 65 or over you could be entitled to the savings credit element if either of the following applies to you:

you’re single and your total weekly income (such as pensions, savings, earnings and investments) is up to about £188.00 a week

you have a partner and your joint weekly income (such as pensions, interest from savings, earnings and investments) is up to about £274.00 a week

As with guarantee credit these amounts may be more if you have a disability, have caring responsibilities or certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments.

How to claim Pension Credit

You can claim Pension Credit by telephone.

Pension Service application line is 0808 100 6165 (textphone 0808 1001165).

If you prefer, you can claim Pension Credit by completing a claim form. You can download the form from the nidirect website.

For further help get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland