Pensioners Fail To Claim 4 Billion Pounds!
If you're over 60 you could be missing out on free cash -- find out how to check.
According to a recent report by Age Concern, up to £4.2 billion in benefits is left unclaimed by older people each year.
So why are so many missing out on benefits owed to them? The charity believes that this is because they either don't know they are entitled, they're worried about the complexity, or they're embarrassed about claiming. However, as we pay taxes and national insurance all our working lives we are entitled to this money, and should make sure that we claim it, once we retire.
Age Concern is launching a major campaign entitled "Your Rights" to encourage older people to claim the money that is rightfully theirs, with the ambitious target of putting £100m into the pockets of pensioners by this time next year. The charity is also urging people across the UK to help older friends and family members to claim as new research has revealed that a third of us (35%) are worried that an older friend or relative is not claiming all that is due to them.
So, if you're retired or would like to help an older person, here's a quick rundown of some of the benefits you (or they) may be entitled to:
1. Pension Credit
Pension Credit is usually a good place to start, as if you can claim this you can usually claim a number of other benefits, too.
Pension Credit is made up of two parts: the Guaranteed Element, which can be claimed by those aged 60 and over and will bring your income up to at least £119/week if you're single, and £181.70/week for a couple.
And if you are 65 or over and single, with an income of less than £167/week (including any income from savings and investments) you may be entitled to the Savings Element (couples must have an income of less than £245/week to qualify). Around half of all pensioners are entitled to Pension Credit, so it could be well worth taking the time to check.
2. Council Tax Benefit (CTB)
Council tax bills have increased by an average of 4.2% this year, but Age Concern has revealed that CTB is the least claimed benefit by older people, particularly homeowners on a low income. Up to £1.4bn in CTB is failing to reach older people, with 50% of those entitled to claim -- that's 2.2m pensioner households, missing out.
Many people who qualify for pension credit will also qualify for CTB, and single people are entitled to a 25% discount on their Council Tax anyway. The charity reckons that claiming CTB alone could cut bills by an average of £580/year. You can find out more about whether you're entitled to a discount from your council here.
3. Housing Benefit
If you're on a low income and pay rent, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit, which can reduce, and in some cases cover all of your rent. You can check your eligibility here. And if you live in one of these areas and rent privately, you may be entitled to the new Local Housing Allowance, instead.
Other benefits older people may be entitled to include Carers' Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Winter Fuel Payments -- you can find out more here.
And on a final note, make sure that any savings you do have are earning as much interest as possible. Northern Rock currently offers a Silver Savings Online account, paying 5.71% AER for savings of £1-£2m, promising to at least equal the base rate until 31.1.10. Interest can be paid monthly, and be either paid away or compounded.
And Market Harborough BS has a Sixty+ Surfer Account, paying 5.59% AER for savings of £1-£100k. Interest can also be paid away or compounded.
So if you suspect that you, or any friends or relatives over 60 could be able to claim any benefits, take the time to find out more. Or contact your local Age Concern office for help -- you can call free on 0800 00 99 66. Remember, this is money that you (or they) are entitled to.
More: Age Concern