Benefits you're entitled to: the over-50s
According to older people's charity Age UK, 16% - or 1.8 million - of pensioners live in poverty, and yet the benefits targeted at this section of society are the most likely to go unclaimed.
The government estimates that around one and a half million pensioners do not claim one of the most important benefits for the retired - Pension Credit - with up to £2.8 billion unclaimed every year. The average amount unclaimed is significant – £1,092 per person, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Other benefits that also go unclaimed by older people include housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Alison Taylor, director of operations at the Elizabeth Finn Trust, which runs the Turn2us benefits advice service, says that many pensioners are "not aware of the financial support available to them, with eight in 10 of those eligible for Pension Credit simply not taking it up.
"We know that the complexity of the benefits system and perceived stigmas around claiming can deter pensioners from accessing this vital support," she adds. "Yet feedback from our users shows how this extra income can make a huge difference to their quality of life."
The benefits that are on offer change as you get older – with some available to people as young as 50 years old. Help is available to ensure that you claim what you are entitled to. Here is an overview of what you can claim in your 50s.
Benefits in your 50s
With people in the UK living longer than ever before and the state pension age rising, most people are expected to have many years of work in front of them when they turn 50.
However, the government is concerned about the number of people in their 50s who are unemployed and find it hard to seek work. Under a new plan announced in December, unemployed over-50s will be offered career reviews and help updating their technology skills. An estimated 1.2 million people over 50 are unemployed but willing to work, and it is hoped that this plan will help them back into employment.
While you are in your 50s, you are also still eligible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance if you are looking for work. After you reach state pension age, this benefit is no longer available.
What is it?
Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for those who could work but who currently aren't but are looking for a job.
How much might you get?
There are two different types of JSA. The first, income-based JSA, is means tested. The second, contributory JSA, is not means tested. Contribution-based JSA is received for six months after becoming unemployed if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions.
You only get income-based JSA if your income and savings are low enough. If you have a partner they must either not be working, or working fewer than 24 hours a week.
Contribution-based JSA is £57.90 per week if you are under 25 and £73.10 if you are 25 or over. You you may get less if you have part-time earnings or a personal/occupational pension.
Income-based JSA is very variable, depending on savings, housing costs and other circumstances. It is calculated by comparing your income to an amount that the government considers enough to live on.
- Visit turn2us.org.uk for a benefits calculator or call the freephone helpline on 0808 802 2000.
- Contact ageuk.org.uk for advice specifically aimed at older people or call the freephone number 0800 169 6565.
A scheme originally established in 1944 to provide protection against sickness and unemployment as well as helping fund the National Health Service (NHS) and state benefits. NI contributions are compulsory and based on a person’s earnings above a certain threshold. There are several classes of NI, but which one an individual pays depends on whether they are employed, self-employed, unemployed or an employer. Payment of Class 1 contributions by employees gives them entitlement to the basic state pension, the additional state pension, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and bereavement benefits. From April 2016, to qualify for the full state pension, individuals will need 35 years’ of NI contributions.