Martin Lewis: 500,000 more people now eligible for Universal Credit
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There are many older people in the UK who struggle to live on the income they have, with the state pension often not enough to keep them going. However, they may be able to get help through Universal Credit, a benefit for people on lower incomes.
Who is eligible for Universal Credit?
The eligibility criteria for Universal Credit are as follows:
- Claimants must live in the UK
- They must be 18 or over
- They must have £16,000 or less in savings
- They must be under state pension age.
On that basis, pensioners cannot usually receive Universal Credit. However, there is a loophole which may allow those over retirement age to still claim.
People who live with their partner might be able to get Universal Credit, even if they are not normally eligible for it.
This is because people who live together must make a joint claim for their household. The rule applies to all couples, even if one party is not eligible for Universal Credit.
Therefore, if only one person in a household has reached state pension age, both parties can still claim as a couple.
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In this way, people who are past state retirement age can still benefit from Universal Credit.
However, once both parties reach state pension age, the joint claim will stop, and neither person will be able to get any money.
For those who are not eligible for Universal Credit, all is not lost, as they may be able to claim Pension Credit once they reach state pension age instead.
Pension Credit is another benefit designed to help people on lower incomes.
How much is Universal Credit?
There is not a one-size-fits-all amount for Universal Credit, with the money received by claimants depending on a variety of factors.
How much can be claimed depends on the earnings of the applicant. Claimants’ circumstances are assessed every month, and changes in circumstances can affect how much they are paid for the whole assessment period.
There is a standard amount of Universal Credit which is paid and varies depending on the age and relationship status of the applicant.
For a couple where either person is over the age of 25, the monthly standard allowance is £509.91.
This is a joint amount for both parties and would be available in the circumstances described earlier, where one person has reached state pension age but the other has not.
On top of this standard amount, it is possible to claim additional Universal Credit based on certain criteria.
For example, people with a disability or health condition can get additional income. Those who have limited capability for work and work-related activity can get an extra £343.63 per month.
In addition, anyone who provides care for at least 35 hours a week for a severely disabled person who receives a disability-related benefit could claim £163.73 more each month.
People who need help with their housing costs could also receive additional support. They may receive a payment to assist in paying their rent or service charges, but exactly how much they can get depends on their age and specific circumstances.
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