State pension age? Change in the rules means some should now claim Universal Credit

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Universal Credit is a working-age benefit which may be claimed in order to help with living costs. Eligibility criteria apply – such as a person or their partner must be under state pension age – but it may be those on low income or who are out of work can claim.

Those who need additional financial support after state pension age may be able to claim the income-related benefit Pension Credit.

This is made up of two parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

The former tops up a weekly income if it’s below £173.75 for single people, or £265.20 for couples.

It’s something which people may be eligible for even if they have savings, a pension, or own their own home.

Meanwhile, Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards retirement, such as a pension.

Those who reached state pension age on or after April 6, 2016 may not be eligible for Savings Credit.

Pension Credit is tax-free, meaning a person doesn’t pay tax on it.

To be eligible, a person must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached state pension age.

Couples can start getting Pension Credit if either they and their partner have both reached state pension age, and/or one of them is getting Housing Benefit for people over state pension age.

Eligibility for this means-tested payment changed in May last year, with this affecting mixed-age couples – meaning those in which one person is state pension age while their partner is not.

In terms of Pension credit eligibility, a partner is defined as a husband, wife or civil partner, if one lives with them, or someone else one lives with as though married.

Since the changes, mixed-age couples may no longer be able to apply for Pension Credit.

However, those who were getting it before the changes on May 15, 2019 can continue to get it even if their partner is under state pension age.

But, if entitlement stops for any reason, such as their circumstances change, the person cannot start getting it again unless they or their partner are eligible under the new rules.

Meanwhile, those who are single and already getting Pension Credit will stop getting it if they start living with a partner who is under state pension age.

They can begin getting it again when the partner reaches state pension age.

Instead, it may be that mixed-age couples instead need to claim Universal Credit.

Eligibility rules state a person may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • They’re on a low income or out of work
  • They’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if a person is 16 to 17)
  • They’re under state pension age (or their partner is)
  • They and their partner have £16,000 or less in savings between them
  • They live in the UK.

It’s possible to use a benefits calculator to check what benefits a person could get.

GOV.UK signposts three different independent benefits calculators – these are found on the websites of entitledto, Turn2us, and Policy in Practice.

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