NI Pensioners urged to claim their share of £50m Pension Credit Age NI is urging older people here to check their eligibility for Pension Credit as it was revealed that around a third of those eligible in Northern Ireland, almost 31,000 families, are not claiming the payments. With an average payment of £32 a week, pensioners could be missing out on over £1600 a year, per recipient, amounting to almost £50million in unclaimed benefits in Northern Ireland alone. Pension Credit is a benefit to help with living costs if you’re over state pension age, by topping up weekly income. Being found to be eligible for Pension Credit also acts as a gateway to some other benefits, potentially transforming an older person’s standard of living. Brenda Kearns, Age NI Head of Advice and Advocacy, explained, “There are several barriers that mean older people do not claimPension Credit they are entitled to, some of this is due to a lack of awareness, and for others, the process of claiming a benefit may seem difficult. “It is really important that older people know about these payments and check if they are eligible. They can offer a significant boost to a person’s income, they are available for both individuals and couples, and they can open up the opportunity to claim additional entitlements such as free dental treatment, TV licence and cold weather payments. “We know from recent UK research that many older people would struggle if they faced an unexpected bill of £200. Pension Credit payments could make all the difference to being able to replace a washing machine or repair a cooker, keeping a car on the road, or leaving the heat on a little longer in winter. “We are encouraging older people of pensionable age to get in touch with Age NI. We provide a free, confidential service over the phone, to do some straightforward checks. A free benefit check in no way affects any other payments or income, so there is nothing to lose in doing the check or making the claim. “It is frustrating that this money, which is rightfully available, is sitting unclaimed. The process of accessing it is quick and easy and, even with modest weekly amounts, it can make a huge difference when unexpected costs arise. Those in their later years shouldn’t have to scrimp and save for essentials. These payments are there for the taking and all it needs is for pensioners to come forward and make their claim.” Last year alone, Age NI secured over £1 million in benefits and welfare payments (including Pension Credit) for callers to its Advice Line. If you would like to get in touch, call 0808 808 7575.” Age UK Ambassador, Len Goodman is supporting the UK-wide call for older people to find out if they are entitled to Pension Credit. Len Goodman: “Older people are so resilient and tend to know how to make do, but it doesn’t have to belike that for those who are struggling to manage day-to-day bills. “Pension Credit is a benefit for low-income pensioners to help cover the costs of later life. Lots of people don’t even know it exists, meaning almost a million older households are not getting the extra money they are entitled to. For those that have claimed, it can mean being able to stick the heating on for longer or having the money to buy essentials for their home to keep well and safe. “That’s why I’m supporting efforts to raise more awareness about this benefit. There’s help out there and Age NI can support older people throughout the whole process – from information gathering to form filling. Please… I would urge anyone who’s watching the pennies to find out more and see if they can make a claim. Pension Credit not only gives you more money each week, it can also be a gateway to other help too.” Notes to Editors: Pension Credit is a means-tested, tax-free benefit for pensioners that opens the door to many other potential benefits including: A free TV licence (if also over-75) Help with Rates Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital A Cold Weather Payment of £25 Help with rent An extra payment within Pension Credit for carers, worth up to £37.70 a week.