As many as 1.4 million lower-income families could be missing out on a valuable boost to their State Pension, according to new figures.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show £3.3 billion worth of Pension Credit benefit went unclaimed in 2015/16.
Worryingly, take-up has been static for the past six years, so the Government is urging people to talk to friends, family and neighbours about making a claim.
On average families entitled to the benefit are missing out on an extra £2,000 a year.
Here’s what you need to know about Pension Credit and how to make a claim.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit that can boost your State Pension.
It’s made up of two parts; Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit is a weekly payment you can get to top-up your income to a minimum level.
Savings Credit is a reward for those that have saved some money towards their retirement in for example a private pension.
How much can you get?
Guarantee Credit tops up your income to £159.35 a week if you’re single or £243.25 if you’re in a couple.
Savings Credit pays up to £13.20 extra a week if you’re single or £14.90 a week if you’re in a couple.
You can use the government’s Pension Credit calculator to work out how much you could get.
You are treated as a couple if you live with your husband, wife or partner. You don’t have to be married or in a civil partnership.
Who is eligible?
Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for one or both parts of Pension Credit.
Guarantee Credit is available if you live in Great Britain and you and your partner have reached the qualifying age.
The qualifying age for Guarantee Credit is gradually rising to 66 by 2020 in line with planned changes to the State Pension age. You can use this calculator to see what your qualifying age is.
To be eligible your weekly income must also be less than £159.35 or £243.25 if you’re part of a couple.
You may be able to claim even if your weekly income is higher if you have a severe disability, you are a carer or have to pay housing costs like a mortgage.
Savings Credit is only available to people that have reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.
If you are entitled to Pension Credit you may also be eligible for other benefits. So even if you are only eligible for a small amount of Pension Credit, it’s worth claiming to open up other help. Use a benefits calculator to figure out what else you can get.
How to claim
In order to get Pension Credit, you need to make a claim for it.
The quickest way to do this is by calling up the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133) – it’s open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
An agent will fill in the application for you over the phone.
If you don’t want to make a claim by phone, you can request a paper application is sent to you.
You will need your National Insurance number, information about your income, pensions, savings and investments plus your bank details to make a claim.