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Updated: 28 Jun 2022

9 pensioner perks and benefits to boost your income

Claiming pension credit can unlock a raft of benefits that can save you money

Pensioners are being urged to check if they're eligible for a 'life-changing benefit' which could top up their weekly income and help support them during the cost of living crisis. 

Pension credit could be worth up to £3,300 a year for pensioners, and the government estimates up to £1.7bn is being left unclaimed by 850,000 families.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a campaign to boost the awareness of this 'well-kept secret', which is already claimed by more than 1.4 million pensioners in Britain. 

It also aims to tackle the myths that can stop people applying, such as how savings, a pension or owning a home are not always barriers to receiving it. 

In addition to topping up your income, pension credit may give you access to other perks such a free TV Licence (if you're 74 or older), free NHS dental treatment, and help towards the cost of glasses – all of which could save you thousands of pounds a year.

Here, Which? explains how pension credit works and the benefits it opens the door to that can boost your income.

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How does pension credit work?

Pension credit tops up the state pension for those on a low income.

It can be claimed for you and your partner, whether it be your husband, wife, civil partner or someone you live with as though you are married/civil partners. If you have a partner, your collective income and capital is taken into account when your pension credit is calculated.

Pension credit is made up of two parts:

  • Guarantee credit This tops up your weekly income up to £182.60 in 2022-23 if you're single and £278.70 for a couple. If you're a carer, have severe disabilities or certain housing costs, you might qualify for more guarantee credit.
  • Savings credit This is available for people who reached retirement age before 6 April 2016, with incomes of at least £158.47 if you're single, or £251.70 if you're part of a couple. However, if you're a couple and your partner reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, you could still qualify. Savings credit provides £14.48 for a single person and £16.20 for a couple per week if you meet the qualifying criteria.

There is a pension credit calculator on the Gov.uk website to help you check your eligibility for pension credit. The calculator will also give you an estimate of the pension credit payment you are due based on your earnings, benefits, pensions, savings and investments.

How do I claim pension credit?

There are two ways you can claim pension credit. You can either fill in and post the Pension Credit claim form to your local pension centre, or phone The Pension Service on 0800 99 1234.

To claim, you will need your National Insurance number, information about your income, savings and investments and your bank account details.

Pension credit can be backdated for up to three months as long as you have satisfied the entitlement conditions during that period. You'll need to request backdating on the claim form as it's not automatic.

A pension credit claim can also be lodged up to four months in advance if you're approaching the qualifying age or are about to become entitled for another reason.

If you're helping someone else check if they're eligible, you can call the Pension Service on their behalf if they can't do it themselves.

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9 pensioner perks and benefits to boost your income

Even if you're only entitled to a small amount of pension credit, it's still worth claiming as it can help unlock heaps of other perks.

We outline some of the ways you can get extra retirement income via pension credit below, as well as other discounts and freebies available to retirees.

1. Housing Benefit

If you get pension credit you may get your some or all of your rent paid in full by your local authority.

When you claim pension credit, you might be asked if you want to make a claim for housing benefit at the same time. If not, you can contact your local council yourself and apply.

If you own your home, you won't be eligible for housing benefit, but you could get help paying your mortgage interest.

2. Medical freebies and discounts

You can get free NHS dental treatments if you receive guarantee credit.

You can also claim help towards the cost of glasses, and what you pay to travel to hospital.

3. Carer perks

If you're a carer and are awarded carer's allowance, you may get what's known as the 'carer addition' included in your pension credit payments. This is worth up to £38.85 per week.

4. Free TV Licence

In August 2020, the BBC introduced a new scheme that offers some over-75s a free TV Licence.

You can get a free TV Licence if: you, as the licence holder, are 75 years or older, and if you or your partner living at the same address, receive pension credit.

In June 2022, the government announced legislative changes which will make it easier and quicker for pensioners to get their TV Licence. Previously, pensioners had to obtain and share documentation with the BBC to prove they are in receipt of Pension Credit. 

However, now the BBC will be able to verify automatically whether a person is on Pension Credit with the DWP, so pensioners can just apply online or over the phone without the need to supply extra paperwork. 

The changes are due to come into effect later this year. 

5. Warm Home Discount

If you get the guarantee credit element of pension credit, you'll qualify for the Warm Home Discount.

You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2022-23 under the scheme.

The qualifying date is usually in July, and if you're eligible you should receive a discount the following winter.

You should receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) between October and December 2022 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.

If you don't receive a letter by 31 December 2022, contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214.

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6. Cold Weather Payment

You'll usually get the Cold Weather Payment if you get pension credit.

This means you'll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below over seven consecutive days.

You'll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

The 2021 to 2022 scheme has now ended. You'll be able to check if your area is due a payment when this year's scheme starts on 1 November 2022.

7. Winter fuel payment

Retirees get the Winter Fuel Payment automatically if they receive the state pension or certain other benefits.

The current rates are £200 per eligible household where the oldest person is under 80, and £300 for households containing someone aged 80 or over.

8. Cheaper days out

Whether or not you're claiming pension credit, pensioners can get discounts on a range of leisure activities including:

  • Museum visits: most museums offer concessions for senior citizens; English Heritage and National Trust also offer reduced memberships.
  • Cinema tickets: Odeon, Vue and Empire offer cheaper tickets to pensioners.
  • Sports tickets: older sports fans can get discounted matchday season tickets for football, cricket and rugby games. The cheaper tickets are usually available for those over the age of 65.

9. Travel discounts

You can also save money on travel if you're over a certain age, such as:

  • Free bus pass: in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London you can get a pass for free travel when you reach 60; in the rest of England you usually only become eligible for one when you reach state pension age.
  • Senior railcard: available to those over 60, it costs £30 a year and enables you to get a third off standard and first class anytime, off-peak and advance fares.

Find out more: the perks and benefits of being retired

Get help with the rising cost of living

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This article was first published on 6 June 2021. It was last updated on 28 June 2022, to include forthcoming changes to TV Licence applications.