Martin Lewis warns 1million retirees risk missing out on £3,000 a year pension credits

MILLIONS of retirees could be missing out on pension credit worth £3,000, Martin Lewis has warned.

The MoneySavingExpert.com founder issued the call to action in his weekly email this week when he asked readers to "spread the word" that 1million people have failed to claim the benefit.

He said: "Despite us nagging for years, 1million-plus of the UK's poorest families fail to claim the benefit due to a lack of info, or perhaps pride.

"Yet it can be worth £1,000s in its own right, plus it opens a gateway to free TV licences and much more."

Mr Lewis and his team also pointed out that if you've been financially impacted by coronavirus, you may be entitled to claim when previously you weren't, or you could now get more. 

What is pension credit and how much is it worth?

Pension credit is a benefit paid typically paid to those who've reached state pension age in England, Scotland, and Wales.

There are two parts to it, and you could qualify for one or the other or both.

The "guarantee credit" element tops up your income if it’s below £173.75 a week for single people or below £265.20 for couples.

If you qualify, your income will be topped up to these thresholds.

Meanwhile, the "savings credit" element is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.

Here, you'll be paid up to £13.97 a week if you're single or up to £15.62 a week if you're in a couple.

How to apply for pension credit

YOU can start a pension credit application up to four months before you reach state pension age.

You can claim any time after you reach state pension age but your claim can only be backdated for three months.

To claim, you will need:

  • your national insurance number
  • information about your income, savings and investments
  • your bank account details, if you’re applying by phone or by post

If you’re backdating your claim, you’ll need details of your income, savings and investments on the date you want your claim to start.

You can apply online via Gov.uk if you've already claimed your state pension or you're not responsible for children.

If not, you can apply by calling 0800 99 1234 or by printing out, completing and posting this online form.

But to get the savings element you need to have reached state pension age before April 6, 2016.

The average payout under the scheme as a whole is around £3,000 a year, according to MoneySavingExpert.com.

And you might get more if you’re a carer, severely disabled, responsible for a child or young person, or have certain housing costs. Use the government's pension credit calculator to check.

Pension credit could entitle you to a free TV Licence and more

But Martin and his MoneySavingExpert team flag that it's not just pension credit you might be missing out on, as getting the guarantee element also entitles you to other perks.

This includes housing benefit, a council tax reduction, cold weather payments and help with the costs of NHS services.

And MoneySavingExpert.com reckons these benefits could also be worth thousands on top.

If you're over 75 it also means you'll qualify for a free TV Licence saving you £157.50 on the cost of a colour one.

The BBC confirmed earlier this month that it will scrap free TV licences for over-75s from August unless they're on pension credit.

See the box above for information on how to claim pension credit. MoneySavingExpert.com also has a handy pension credits guide.

Some retirees have been underpaid their state pension for years – we spoke to one widow who has owed £117,000.

But a new free tool has been launched to try and ensure women don't miss out.

In other pensions news savers have been warned about transferring out of generous schemes as an investigation into 30 advisory firms is launched.

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