TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR OLDER PEOPLE TO QUALIFY FOR CHANCELLOR’S £650 COST-OF-LIVING PAYMENT Age NI urges all pensioners on a low income to claim Pension Credit now or risk missing out on extra help towards the cost of living Older people have until Thursday 18 August to put in a claim in order to qualify for the UK Government’s £650 cost-of-living payment, according to Age NI. The charity is urging all older people who are struggling to make ends meet and who are not already in receipt of Pension Credit to get in touch with its Advice Line (0808 808 7575) to check if they are eligible without delay, so they don’t risk missing out. To be eligible for the Cost of Living Payment, which was announced in May, people must have been entitled to Pension Credit (or later found to be entitled to a payment) in the period 26 April – 25 May 2022. Because a successful application for Pension Credit can be backdated by three months, those who begin the claiming process before 18 August will still meet the eligibility criteria. That’s why Age NI is stepping up its call for people to put in a claim for this essential benefit. As well providing a much-needed income boost and automatically qualifying them for the government’s Cost of Living Payment, Pension Credit also opens the door to a wide range of additional support including: A Cold Weather Payment of £25, paid automatically when the average temperature is 0°C or below over seven consecutive days A free TV licence (if over-75) Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital Help with rent and domestic rates Cheaper broadband deals (depends on provider) Pension Credit tops up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £182.60 or a pensioner couple to £278.70, (or higher in some circumstances). Pension Credit is separate from the State Pension. Across the UK, a third (34 per cent) of pensioners eligible to claim Pension Credit are still missing out, which is a huge concern, especially as the cost of living continues to rise. Government figures show that 770,000 eligible UK pensioner households (single people or couples) are not receiving their Pension Credit payments, worth around £1.5 billion every year – an average of £1,900 a year, per household. Brenda Kearns, Head of Age NI’s Advice and Advocacy service, said: “Some people will have heard the qualifying date in May, and thought they had missed the boat, but it’s not too late. Because Pension Credit can be backdated by three months, there is still a window of opportunity for older people on lower incomes to qualify for this payment if they act before 18 August. We’re urging people to get in contact with us and get help to make their claim without delay, so they don’t miss out. “Pension Credit not only gives a significant boost to people’s weekly income; it also opens the door to a wealth of extra support including help with rates, a free TV licence, dental care and other discounts. It’s also been the benefit used to determine which older people qualify for other local energy support payments made by the Department for Communities. Many pensioners are missing out on this – and other welfare payments - and may not even be aware they’re eligible for it. “The average successful claimant supported through Age NI’s free Advice Line is around £2,500 better off a year, with many receiving a lot more. Annually, our expert advice team at Age NI helps put over £1million of unclaimed benefits in the pockets of older people in Northern Ireland. “The claiming process can be daunting and we’re here to help people through it step by step. The sooner people act, the sooner they’ll find out if they are eligible. Our service is free and confidential, so there’s nothing to lose in making the call and doing a check. The extra money can be life-changing, especially at the current time.” Age NI’s Advice line number is 0808 808 7575 and operates Mon-Fri (9am-5pm) excluding Bank Holidays. Alternatively, people can visit www.ageni.org/moremoney where there is an information guide (More Money in Your Pocket) and a free and anonymous Benefits Calculator, which can provide an estimate of the benefits that people could be entitled to.