Benefit changes for older mixed-age couples 'could cost some £7,000 a year'

15 January 2019

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to introduce changes to pension age state benefits that will impact older couples of different ages,

The decision will affect couples where one partner has reached state pension age and one hasn't. It will impact when they can start to claim.

Under current rules married couples are able to transition from working age to pension age benefits as soon as the oldest spouse reaches state pension age.

However, from 15th May this year the couple will only be able to transition once the youngest of the pair reaches state pension age.

The move will impact benefits including pension age housing benefit, universal credit and pension credit.

The older party, however, will not need to meet work-based requirements to claim.

The DWP say that the change would ensure that younger people do not get additional benefits as a result of having an older partner.

However pension firm Royal London claims that the change could cost some couples over £7,000 a year.

Steve Webb, director of policy for Royal London and former pensions minister, says: “This change to the benefit rules means that some couples could lose thousands of pounds depending on whether their claim falls a day before or a day after the May deadline.

"People who may be affected deserve to know about this change and not have it sneaked out on a day when ministers were no doubt hoping that everyone’s attention was directed somewhere else.”

Curious timing of the announcement

The announcement was published by the department at 7.22pm on Monday – the eve of the crucial Brexit vote.

Nathan Long, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, took a similar view. "An after-hours announcement about the watering down of benefits for some pensioners the day before a pivotal day for the future of the country seems a little too convenient.

"It’s bad news, let’s face it and so burying it among a busy day of Brexit was bound to appeal. The problem is a little cut here, or a cost shaved off there all undermine confidence in pensions.

"At some point the Government will simply have to take the brave step of deciding how the pension system should be reshaped to be fit for the future."

However, Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon says most couples won’t be hit to such a large degree.

“The latest changes to rules around new benefit claims for couples where one is above and one is below state pension age illustrate just how complex the benefit system is.

"Claims that some ‘mixed age’ couples could be £7,000 a year worse off suggest very substantial differences in pension credit and housing benefit for those below and above state pension age."

He adds: “Whenever there’s a change to benefit entitlements, there can be those who feel they have lost out because they fall on the wrong side of a cut-off date.

"But sometimes changes are needed to ensure benefits are going to those in greatest need. This change will affect far fewer individuals than the increase in female state pension age.

"There, inadequate communication meant many thousands of women were surprised to find that because of their date of birth, they are having to wait up to five years longer before they can claim their state pension.”

Mixed age couples who are already claiming pension age benefits will not be affected by the change.

The decision to make the change was based on a Parliamentary vote in 2012. However as recently as December 2018, the DWP had said it was only ‘considering’ how to make the change.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Pension TransitionThis is wrong!!My wife has already had her pension age sabotaged.....twice!After contributing 35yrs of benefits and looking forward to retiring at 60, she was told she had to work an additional total of 5yrs and 5months as she missed the cut off date by two months!She has done the additional time and is due to retire at 65yrs and 5months in July this year.Yes I am younger than her and this change amounts to nothing but unfair, discriminatory victimisationMy wife has done her time, she has paid her dues and should be allowed to retire with HER pension to which she has contributed to throughout her working life.I would be happy to support any legal action as this is just wrong on all levels

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think it should be "older" and "younger" (not "oldest" and "youngest") when referring to two people only.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My husband is 79 and still working but I’m ill and receive PIP. I’m 62 and don’t qualify for pension until I’m 66. Where do we stand then?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I also think it is disgusting,iam married to lady 17 years younger than me so in all intent I will loose out by 122,000 pounds YES 122 000 pounds ,while all the people who were in my class started school on the same day and left school on the same day get it,wish someone can explain to me the reason for this,for the last 13 year ive geared my life around having this money now what I have I got to be here for after working hard all my life ,iam treted same as a guy who never done days work in his life so very very unfair ,

In reply to by robert cloney (not verified)

Me and my partner were a…

Me and my partner were a mixed age couple, we separated but have now patched things up , and we can not go back on the pension credit allowance for a couple as we were classed as a change of circumstances

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What if you are below pension age because u are retired on ill- health,

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What if you are below pension age because you are retired on ill health.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why is it that in most changes of law an exemption is put in place i.e if you’re born before a certain date you are exempt but not this one? I’m sure that this could be construed to be age discrimination penalising the elderly for having a partner younger than oneself, so much for David Cameron’s talk on sanctity of marriage. Do not be surprised if they change the laws on divorce to make it harder to divorce before there is an influx. The whole of the government workers, MP's etc. all have a cushy private pension that most of us could only dream about, we bring up our children working to pay the bills and now you just want to take 40+ years of working away from those who worked all their lives to be able to relax when retirement comes, is it not enough the retirement age has increased giving no time for yourself with or without a partner. It's an absolute disgrace and I am surprised there has not been any protests over this the amount of money that will be lost for couples. Why has no one (that I am aware of) protested against this. New law that puts people poverty and discriminates against. the government should be ashamed of themselves

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Query with Benefit change on 15th May mixed aged couples.What is working age and pension age transition benefits ??Why is this not explained

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Question to you .... why do you say younger generation have to pay my pension ...... when I started work at 16 ..... and know 64 .... never ever claimed benefits .....and now your suggesting I get means tested on my pension ( when I’m 66 ) .... to give people who may never have worked ...... be as polite to answer my question all can read on this site ..... many thanks

In reply to by Joy jones (not verified)

who's paying for pension?

Unfortunately its a often mistake to think you are paying for your own pension when you pay your NA insurance . What you are doing is paying for those people who are drawing theirs now . As in the first years of Government pension payout nobody, had paid anything in, as it hadn't existed up till then.
Which is why the pension people were so concerned about a ageing population, as with less and less working population those who do, will have to pay more . That's until we had the massive increase in young immigrants , who hopeful will be paying mine

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What do they class as a couple? The article states 'Under current rules 'married' couples are able to transition ....etc'How will it impact on couples who live under the same roof, but are single and financially independent as far as tax, N.I, pensions, savings and investments are concerned?This arrangement probably accounts for half of 'couples' in the UK.

In reply to by David Roberts (not verified)

Concentrate on the matter in hand not some stupid pedantic grammatical notion!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So does this mean my husband will loose his state pension till I hit probably 68 ? Or is this benifit on top ? Hes 14 years older than me n that means he won't get his pension till hes 82 ? How is that fair based on that 7000 calculation that 98000 we will loose because where different ages , how is that even legal , it's theft we have both worked and paid into the system all our lives he should be entitled to his pension as should anyone else.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Despicable. This is theft, sneaky and malicious. I find it almost incredible that such a law could be contrived and approved. It will punish couples just for being years apart, and those spouses who care for the elder spouse will be condemned to poverty. Hard earned payments over the elder spouses working life denied to them. Criminal !

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's another disgraceful act by the Tory Government to further reduce the welfare of the poorest people struggling to survive on a further reduced income. Shame on them. The Tories continue on their policies of "Take from the Poor, and give to the Rich. Scum the lot of them that supported this change.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's disgusting tipical works and pensions, you work pay in to the pot and when you most need to draw on that pot they kick you while you're down. Pension credits are a necessity to the older population on low income, they have suffered with low wagers while being employed, paid there dues, just because one's partner is younger than pensionable age they will cut the couples pension up to £7000. Pensioners are already fighting fuel poverty this act by a government department that are consumed with the idea of cuts could potentially lead to deaths .

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If both parties have paid in with no brakes they should be exempt . Its getting to the point where sofa surfers will get more in retirement than people that never claimed a benefit and worked.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Haven't they stolen enough of our pensions already.Thieving sods

In reply to by lynda (not verified)

I’m in similar situation - retired on ill health but only 60, will it affect us

In reply to by Trevor (not verified)

Yes it’s appalling . I watched a dispatches program last night and it was about the rich pensioners who receive benefits saying we’re better off than those in work . They were millionaire business people not the average pensioner . I hope there’s a petition soon .. I will definitely be signing and sharing .

State pension

I'm 65 in October due starlet pension oct 2020 my husband will be 48 then he is on PIP and uuniversal credit , will I still get my state pension ,I've worked all my life.

In reply to by Enid prince (not verified)

State pension

You'll get the New State Pension, but they will take it from your Universal Credit claim, so you'll be no better off.

In reply to by Paul (not verified)

It's all wrong this new law…

It's all wrong this new law about mixed age couples, many will be better off living apart

mixed age pensions

Well for all its promises today I got notice that i will be losing £68 from my pension ( the cost of the weeks grocery bill) Not sure quite how we will cope, as also have a 13 year old child . Looks like she will have to go into care ,at least until she's old enough to help support up

Loss of £70 per week due cut in married man's pension

A bloody disgrace, how can this country stoop so low?

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