By Amanda Eleftheriades
“It’s very difficult to ask for help.”
Sarah,* a retired teacher in her late seventies, is one of millions of pensioners who have never investigated the social security support available.
She explained: “I was brought up to believe if you can’t afford something, you just go without. It would never cross my mind to claim for it.
“I remember my grandmother saying she didn’t want to go ‘on the parish’ because of the shame of it.
“That was in the days before there was a Welfare State and I think a lot of people my age are of a similar mindset.”
Although 1.4 million pensioners do receive pension credits, DWP statistics show
Sarah is not alone in being reluctant to apply for thousands of pounds they are legally entitled to.
An estimated 1 million pensioner households could be £65 a week better off if they received the pension credits they are due.
Like Sarah many older people don’t like to ask for help. Many more also think they won’t qualify if they have savings or own their home.
Sarah added: “I’m fortunate I know my way around a computer but there are a lot of people my age who don’t know anything about pension credits and wouldn’t have a clue how to apply, even if they did.”
Pension credits are known as ‘passport benefits’.
This means if you are eligible it opens the door to a wide range of additional support, including help with rent, Council Tax, Winter Heating payment and a free TV license for those over 75.
And those making a successful claim before December 19 this year will also receive the second cost of living payment of £324.
While millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is going unclaimed, many older people are struggling with rising energy costs and food bills.
To encourage more people to claim pension credits the DWP has set up a pension credit claim line. The freephone number is 0800 991234.
There is also an online pension credit calculator where you can find out if your claim is likely to be successful and how much you could be entitled to.
Find out more and Claim What’s Yours by visiting https://www.gov.uk/pensioncredit-calculator
Check out the local support services able to help you claim social security benefits on page 16.
Are You Pension Wise?
Anyone 50+ with a Defined Contribution Pension can book an appointment with a Pension Wise specialist.
In Scotland this is provided via local Citizens Advice Bureaux.
The Pension Wise guidance specialists are impartial – they won’t recommend any products or companies or tell you how to invest your money.
For more information or to book an appointment visit the Pension Wise website https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/pensions-and-retirement/pensionwise/book-a-free-pension-wise-appointment or phone Pension Wise on 0800 138 3944.
*Name changed at the request of the interviewee
This article was published in December 2022 and was accurate at time of publication