Pension Credit – Time Is Running Out For Mixed Age Couples

From May 15, 2019 Pension Credit is changing for mixed-aged couples and those not already claiming it will miss out.

A mixed age couple includes one person who has reached State Pension Age and one who has not. Until May 15, 2019, mixed-age couples are entitled to claim Pension Credit, even though one of them has not yet reached State Pension Age.

However, in May things are changing. After that date mixed-age couples will not be able to make new Pension Credit claims but will instead have to claim under Universal Credit. The difference between Pension Credit and Universal Credit could be worth more than £7000 a year to a mixed-age couple – but only if they make their Pension Credit claim before May 15th.

In the run up to May 15th, all mixed-aged couples in Northern Ireland claiming Pension Credit will receive a letter from the Department of Communities outlining these new regulations. In Northern Ireland it’s estimated that a third of older people don’t claim Pension Credit they are entitled to.

What is it?

Pension Credit is a tax-free weekly payment which provides older people with a minimum level of income and subsidises those on a modest income who have made savings for their retirement.

Under the current system who qualifies for Pension Credit?

  • Individuals who have reached State retirement age
  • Couples where one individual has reached State retirement age
  • Those with income below a certain level
  • People who are resident in the UK and not subject to immigration control

What does it mean?

Under the current system only one member of a mixed-age couple needs to be over State retirement age to make a joint Pension Credit claim. After May 15, new pensioners whose partners are younger than the State retirement age cannot claim Pension Credit. Instead they will have to claim Universal Credit and in doing so could lose out on more than £7,000 a year.

Those mixed-age couples claiming Pension Credit before May 15, 2019 will not be impacted by this change. Those who experience a change in circumstances may be impacted.

What can you do?

If you or your partner has reached State retirement age now is the time to find out if you can claim Pension Credit. You can find out if you are eligible by visiting the NI Direct website or the website. If you would like to speak to someone about Pension Credit, Universal Credit or other benefits then you can call the free Independent Welfare Changes Helpline on 0808 802 0020, 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.