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Changes have been made to Pension Credit since April 2016.  Details of all of these are summarised below.

Savings Pension Credit

Changes from April 2016 mean that a new claim for Savings Pension Credit can only be made:

  • If single – they reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016 and are now 65.
  • For couples, they both reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016 and one of them is now 65.

Those pensioners already in receipt of Savings Pension Credit as at 6th April 2016 continue to receive it.

Assessed Income Period Changes from April 2016

From April 2016 no new Assessed Income Periods have been given and those already in place will be ended earlier.

Most will have ended by March 2019, leaving just the indefinite Assessed Income Periods given before April 2016 to some claimants age 75 or over.

Assessed Income Periods were periods that were set by the Pension Service during which a person does not need to report changes in pensions, savings or investments, and which means their Pension Credit award is not reduced if savings increase during the Assessed Income Period. Not all Pension Credit claimants were given an Assessed Income Period – you needed to  be age 65 and over and not expecting a significant change in your income or savings at the point you claimed Pension Credit.

This means that everyone who is awarded Pension Credit from April 2016 now needs to report all changes in their circumstance and these changes could affect their entitlement straight away.

Child Elements Introduced February 2019

This has been gradually introduced since 1st February 2019 as a result of Universal Credit replacing (amongst other benefits) Child Tax Credit, for working age claimants.  Pension Credit has started to include elements for children that the person is responsible for.

You may be entitled to this additional amount as part of your Guarantee Credit if:

  • you have main responsibility for a child under 16 years of age or a qualifying young person; and
  • the child or qualifying young person is normally living with you

A qualifying young person means a person who is aged 16 to 19 and in full-time education or approved training.

You must not be claiming tax credits or have been claiming tax credits in the previous year. If you are already claiming support for children through Child Tax Credit, this will continue.

Changes To Pension Credit For Couples – May 2019

Before 15 May 2019, a person over State Pension age with a partner under State Pension age could qualify for Pension Credit.

From 15 May 2019, both partners will normally need to have reached State Pension age to be able to start getting Pension Credit.

If only one of you has reached State Pension age, you’ll only be able to start getting Pension Credit if, on the day your claim starts, you are entitled (as a couple) to Housing Benefit for people who have reached State Pension age.

Either partner can be the person claiming Housing Benefit but the person who has reached State Pension age must:

  • have reached it before 15 May 2019
  • be the one who applies for Pension Credit.

These changes also apply to Housing Benefit for people who have reached State Pension age. This means that if only one of you has reached State Pension age, you may only get Housing Benefit (as a couple) for people over State Pension age if either:

  • the claim for Housing Benefit started before 15 May 2019, or
  • the claim for Housing Benefit started from a date on or after 15 May 2019 when you were also entitled to Pension Credit as part of the same couple.

My partner is under State Pension age but I reached State Pension age before 15 May. I’m not currently getting Pension Credit – can I still apply?

You may be able to get Pension Credit (or start getting it again) if you and your partner are entitled to Housing Benefit for people over State Pension age on the day you want to start claiming Pension Credit from.

You can backdate an application for Pension Credit (and Housing Benefit) for up to 3 months, provided you would have been eligible on the earlier date.

I’m already getting Pension Credit for myself and my partner, but my partner has not reached the qualifying age – will the changes from 15 May 2019 affect us?

If you are currently entitled to Pension Credit, you’ll carry on getting it for as long as you continue to qualify for it without a break.

If you stop being entitled to it on or after 15 May 2019 for any reason, you will not normally be able to start getting it for yourself and your partner again before your partner reaches State Pension age.

The exception to this is if you and your partner are also entitled to Housing Benefit for people who have reached State Pension age at the time your Pension Credit stops, and you’re still entitled to it (as part of the same couple) when you make your new claim for Pension Credit.

Will my Pension Credit be affected if I start living with a partner who has not reached State Pension age?

From 15 May 2019, if you start living with a partner who is still under State Pension age, your Pension Credit will stop. If you’re also getting Housing Benefit, this will stop as well.

This is because new rules that apply from that date mean that both partners must have reached State Pension age before a couple can get Pension Credit. These rules also apply to Housing Benefit for people who have reached State Pension age.

What other benefits could I get after I’ve reached State Pension age if I can’t get Pension Credit because my partner is under State Pension age?

You and your partner may be able to get Universal Credit instead.

If you claim Universal Credit, you’ll both need to apply together, but once you’re over State Pension age, you will not have any work-based conditions applied to you.

 Find out more about how to claim at www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

You and your partner may be able to get another benefit instead of claiming Universal Credit.

You may be able to do this if any of the following circumstances applies to you.

  • You are currently claiming Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance or Housing Benefit for people under State Pension age for yourself and your partner and you are entitled to the Severe Disability Premium as part of that benefit.

Where this is the case, you cannot claim Universal Credit, but:

  • when you reach State Pension age, new rules allow your existing benefit to continue even though you are over the normal age for being able to claim it, provided you continue to be entitled to the Severe Disability Premium and meet the other entitlement conditions o if you’re only claiming Housing Benefit, you may be able to make a new claim for one of the other benefits if you need extra financial support, even when you’re over State Pension age.
  • Your partner is currently claiming Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance for both of you. Where this is the case
    • when you reach State Pension age, your partner can continue claiming their existing benefit for you both, provided they continue to meet the normal entitlement conditions.
  • You and your partner are currently claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance as a joint claim couple. Where this is the case: o when you reach State Pension age, your partner can continue claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, with your partner taking responsibility for the claim for both of you, provided they continue to meet the normal entitlement conditions.
  • You are already over State Pension age when you start living with your partner and they are already claiming Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Where this is the case:
    • your partner will normally be able to claim for both of you by adding you to their claim, provided they still meet the qualifying conditions for their existing benefit. (This won’t apply if, for example, your partner is claiming Income Support as a lone parent. In this situation, if you start living together as a couple, their Income Support will stop and you will both need to apply for Universal Credit.)

Your, or your partner’s, entitlement to any of these other benefits after you have reached State Pension age may stop if your circumstances change later on. If your partner is still under State Pension age when this happens, you may be able to get Universal Credit.

You will not be able to claim Universal Credit if the benefit you, or your partner, were getting included the Severe Disability Premium, and both of the following apply:

  • no more than a month has passed since the previous claim ended
  • the person who was claiming the benefit has continued to meet the eligibility conditions for the Severe Disability Premium.

In this situation, you may be able to re-apply for the benefit you were previously getting instead.

Staff at your local Jobcentre will be able to advise you about which benefits you can claim.

I did not get Pension Credit when I applied before. Can I apply again?

Yes, if your personal circumstances or the benefit rates have changed, you may get Pension Credit now. If you think you may qualify, do not delay claiming.  Call us today on 0800 011 3447 and ask to be referred to our SWITCH team

 

Looking for more information?

Get in touch with DGHP today.

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