Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people aged 60 or over. It has two parts - a guarantee credit and a savings credit. Guarantee credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed level and savings credit is for people who have a small amount of income or savings. You may be able to claim either part of the Pension Credit separately or together, depending on your circumstances.
You can claim Pension Credit whether or not you are working, and do not need to have paid national insurance contributions to get the benefit.
Arrangements for claiming and paying pension credit are run by the Pension Service. The Pension Service does not have its own offices for people to visit, but you can contact them by telephone, through their locally-based services, or through other organisations such as your local benefits office. The national telephone helpline for the Pension Service is 0800 99 1234. The textphone number is 0800 169 0133. In Northern Ireland the Pension Sevice Enquiry line is 0808 601 8821, calls charged at local rate, lines open 8am-8pm Monday-Saturday. The Pension Service has a website at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk. and in Northern Ireland the website address for the Social Security Agency is www.ssani.gov.uk .
Who can get Pension Credit
You can claim Pension Credit for yourself and your partner. If you are a member of a same sex couple, you will both need to make claims as single people for the benefits which apply to you. If you or your partner, or both of you, live permanently in a care home, you will also have to claim pension credit as single people.
You can claim the benefit if you are in hospital or in prison, but there are special rules about how much Pension Credit you can get in these situations.
Who can get guarantee credit
You can get the guarantee credit if you:-
- are aged 60 or over (it does not matter if your partner is under 60) are living in the UK and entitled to claim benefits here have income below a certain amount.
Who can get savings credit
You can get the savings credit if :-
- you or your partner is aged 65 or over. (It does not matter who makes the claim for Pension Credit) you are living in the UK and entitled to claim benefits here you have income below a certain amount.
How Pension Credit is calculated
The Pension Service will start off by working out your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’. This is a weekly minimum figure that is guaranteed to people of 60 and over and depends on your personal needs. They will also work out what income you have. They then calculate how much guarantee credit (if any) you can get and whether you are also due savings credit.
Working out entitlement to pension credit can be complicated. Provided the total amount of pension credit includes some guarantee credit then the whole amount is ignored when calculating entitlement to housing and council tax benefit. But if the total is savings credit only then it is ALL taken into account for the purposes of housing and council tax benefit. You can find out more about the calculation at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/pensioncredit or contact DAIS on 01257 424000.
How to claim Pension Credit
If you were receiving minimum income guarantee (MIG) before 6 October 2003, the Pension Service will automatically transfer you to Pension Credit. They will write to you about this, and work out both your guarantee credit and savings credit. If they are not able to transfer you by 6 October 2003, you will continue to receive MIG, and your pension credit award will be sorted out later.
If you were not receiving minimum income guarantee before 6 October 2003,
you will need to make a claim for Pension Credit. You can claim by filling in form PC1. If you need help with the form DAIS can help.
What you need to make a claim
To make a valid claim for Pension Credit, you must provide certain information, usually within one month of making your claim. For example, you will need your national insurance number or evidence to allow the Pension Service to find your number. If you do not have a national insurance number, you will have to apply for one.
You will also have to prove your identity. You may be able to do this by providing a document such as a driving licence, birth or marriage certificate, or a passport. You may be asked to provide more than one piece of evidence. If you do not have any documentary evidence, try to provide as much other evidence and facts about yourself as possible.
You will also have to provide evidence of your income. This evidence could include, for example, pension payslips, proof of service charges, and proof of any other money you receive.
You have to send or show the Pension Service original documents, not photocopies. They will be returned to you as soon as possible.
The date of your claim
Your claim will be dated from the day that you first tell the Pension Service that you want to claim Pension Credit (as long as you supply all the required information within one month). If you need longer to supply information and evidence, the Pension Service may extend the time allowed if they think it reasonable. Otherwise, your date of claim will be the date your fully completed claim form arrives with the Pension Service.
You may be able to have your pension credit backdated. If you apply between 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2004, your award will be backdated to 6 October 2003 or the date your entitlement began, whichever is later.
If your circumstances change
If you know that your circumstances are likely to change when you apply for Pension Credit, you should tell the Pension Service. These changes could include, for example, changes in the amount of your occupational pension or other income. You should also always report changes of circumstances to the Pension Service once you are getting Pension Credit. If you do not do this you may be underpaid or overpaid Pension Credit. If you are overpaid you can be asked to pay back the extra Pension Credit that you've received. (If you deliberately fail to report a change in your circumstances, you may be guilty of a criminal offence.)
How is Pension Credit paid
You can receive Pension Credit by order book, giro, or directly into your bank or building society account. The Pension Service will ask you about having your money paid directly into an account. If you are not able to collect your Pension Credit in person. you may be able to arrange for someone else to do so. Ask the Pension Service about this.
Pension Credit and other help
If you are getting any guarantee credit, you may also be able to get:-
- housing benefit (if you get guarantee credit you will qualify for the maximum amount of housing benefit) council tax benefit (if you get guarantee credit you will qualify for the maximum amount of council tax benefit) help with health costs – free prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests help with the cost of court fees In England, Wales and Scotland only, help with water and sewerage charges.
Further help and advice:
For further help and advice on any DSS matters including appeals please contact us on 01257 424000 or write to DAIS at 81a High Street, Standish, Wigan WN6 0HD.