Beat the pension credit deadline
Two million people are still missing out on pension credit, and with new rules coming into play on 6 October, time is running out for many of them to claim what they are rightfully owed.
Pension credit was first introduced on 6 October 2003, yet around two million people eligible are failing to claim it, according to government statistics. And upcoming rule changes mean those that act too late could end up missing out.
Currently, people eligible for pension credit may also be able to receive a backdated payment for up to 12 months from the day they were first eligible to the date they applied.
However, from 6 October 2008 this changes from 12 months to three months.
So, with the deadline fast approaching, you'll have to act quickly to get your application in.
1. Are you eligible?
Pension credit is a financial benefit for people aged 60 or over living in the UK, designed to ensure you earn an income of at least £124.05 a week if you are single or £189.35 a week if you have a partner. This amount increases for people aged 65 or over, by £19.71 a week for single people and £26.13 a week if you have a partner.
Not everyone aged over 60 is automatically eligible for pension credit - however, if your incomings give you an income of less than the above amounts, then the government will top you up.
To find out if you are eligable, you need to add up your weekly net income (after deductions) and savings.
2. What’s your income?
The government only counts certain types of income. These include:
* Pensions (including state pension, a work pension or a personal pension, Financial Assistance Scheme payments or pension protection fund payments)
* Certain benefits such as carer's allowance
* Income from a job
These do not include:
* Attendance Allowance (a tax-free benefit for people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled and require help with personal care)
* Disability Living Allowance (a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled)
* Housing Benefit
* Council Tax Benefit
Once you’ve worked out your income, you need to take into account your savings. These include:
* Money in a bank, building society or post office account
* Any savings you or your partner keep at home
* National Savings Certificates and Premium Bonds
* ISAs and PEPs
* Shares or unit trusts
* Income bonds, capital bonds or granny bonds
* Property and land (not including your main place of residence)
These do not include any interest or dividends you get from your savings.
4. How to apply
Call for free on 0800 99 1234, or textphone 0800 169 0133. These lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday.
Or print off an application form and fill it in by hand (or fill it out online) and post it for free.
However, you'll need to call 0845 60 60 265 (or 0845 60 60 275 for Welsh speaking customers) between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday to find out you’re the Freepost address, and you will be charged local rate for these calls. You also need Adobe Reader to print the application form.
A form of National Savings Certificate, premium bonds are effectively gilt-edged securities: you loan your money to the government and, in return, it pays you for the privilege with a guarantee it will return your capital at a specified date. Where premium bonds differ is that the interest payments (currently 1.5%) are pooled and paid out as prize money and you can get your cash back within a fortnight, with no risk. Launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan in his 1956 Budget, every single £1 unit has the same chance of winning and in May 2011, 1,772,482 winners (from a total draw of 42,539,589,993 eligible bond numbers) shared £53,174,500. The odds of winning are 24,000 to 1 and the maximum holding is £30,000 per person but it remains the only punt in which you can perpetually recycle your stake money.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.