Thousands of vulnerable old people in the region may be living in poverty –unnecessarily.
More than 2,400 of South Kesteven’s poorest pensioners and some 500 in Rutland are failing to claim Pension Credit, a basic benefit intended to top-up the pensions of the poorest to at least £145.40 a week, the charity Independent Age has discovered.
Now Independent Age has launched a free Wise Guide to assist pensioners in claiming their entitlement and helping them to stay independent.
Victoria Richards, the national charity’s head of advice and support said, “With rising prices a huge source of anxiety to many pensioners,
“Pension Credit really can make all the difference to those in later life. In some cases, it can also direct pensioners to other benefits such as council tax and housing benefit.
“And when claimed with Attendance Allowance, it can almost double some people’s incomes. But it does have to be claimed – and our new Wise Guide shows you how.”
Attendance Allowance is for people with health problem or disability and is not means-tested. Any pensioner can apply regardless of income or savings.
Steve Sawyer, benefits advisor for Age Concern, said older people in their 70s, 80s and 90s often did not claim benefits because of stoicism or the belief that there is a stigma attached to it.
He said: “Many are reluctant to claim.
“But they should if their income and capital are below a certain amount.
“They are the generation that supported the Welfare State which helps people when they are in need. So I’d say don’t be reluctant, ask. You will never know until you ask.”
There are two types of Pension Credits: Guarantee Credit is income-based and tops up weekly income if it’s below £145.40 (for singles) or £222.05 (for couples) to these levels; Savings Credit is for people 65 and over and provides extra money if you have savings or an income higher than the basic state pension.
People on Savings Credit may have no savings but they may have a small private or occupational pension.
It’s worth up to £18.06 for singles and £22.89 for couples.
Wise Guides are free and can be ordered on 0845 262 1863 and at www.independentage.org/advice/order-your-wise-guides/
Independent Age offers advice and befriending services.
For more information, visit www.independentage.org