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Benefits for older people

Benefits when you are older

Some of the rules about benefits depend on your age. In many cases, the rules change when you get to state pension age.

State pension age is the age when people can choose to start getting their State Pension. State pension age used to be 60 for a woman and 65 for a man. However, state pension age is changing for most people.

If you are a woman born on or after 6 April 1950, you will no longer be able to claim a state pension at the age of 60 and if you are a man born on or after 6th December 1953 you will no longer be able to claim a state pension at the age of 65. If you fall into one of these groups of men or women, the age when you can claim your state pension depends on your date of birth.

Along with the changes in state pension age, there are changes to the age when you become entitled to some other benefits.

Benefits affected by the changes to state pension age include:

If you are already getting benefits and you are approaching pension age you might need to consult an experienced adviser about how the different benefits work together. If you have a choice between different benefits, an experienced adviser can help you choose which is best for you. You can consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

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State pension age

You can find out your exact state pension age by using the calculator on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

State pension age for women

If you were born before 6 April 1950, your state pension age is 60.

If you were born on or after 6 April 1950 but before 6 December 1953, your state pension age will be somewhere between 60 and 65, depending on your date of birth.

If you were born on or after 6 December 1953 but before 6 April 1978, your state pension age will be somewhere between 65 and 68 depending on your date of birth.

If you were born on or after 6 April 1978, your state pension age will be 68.

State pension age for men

If you were born before 6 December 1953, your state pension age is 65.

If you were born on or after 6 December 1953 but before 6 April 1978, your state pension age will be somewhere between 65 and 68 depending on your date of birth.

If you were born on or after 6 April 1978, your state pension age will be 68.

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What benefits can you get when you are older

Help if you are on a low income

If you are an older person on a low income, you may be able to claim a means-tested benefit called Pension Credit. Depending on your income, you may also be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, or a rate rebate in Northern Ireland.

If you are a woman, you can claim Pension Credit once you've reached state pension age. Your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction will also be worked out differently once you've reached state pension age, so you may become entitled to these benefits even if you weren't before.

If you are a man, you can claim Pension Credit once you've reached the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you. This is your Pension Credit qualifying age. Your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction will also be worked out differently once you've reached this age, so you may be entitled to these benefits even if you weren't before.

You can work out the exact date of your state pension age, or your Pension Credit qualifying age, by using the state pension age calculator on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

For more information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent - Housing Benefit, and for more information about Council Tax Reduction, see Council Tax reduction– what you need to know or Help with your rates in Northern Ireland.

If you get Pension Credit and you do not live in a care home, you will be able to get help with fuel costs during very cold weather. These are known as cold weather payments.

For more information about cold weather payments, see Help for people on a low income – the Social Fund.

Travel concessions

In England

In England, you are entitled to free bus travel when you are older.

If you're a woman living in England, you can get free bus travel once you've reached state pension age.

If you're a man living in England, you can get free bus travel once you've reached the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you.

You may also get travel concessions on other sorts of public transport.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

If you're a man or a woman living in Wales or Scotland, you can get free bus travel if you're over sixty and may get cheaper rates on other sorts of public transport.

In Northern Ireland, you can get free bus travel if you're over sixty.

For more information about travel concessions in England, Wales and Scotland, see Public transport.

Winter fuel payment

If you're older, you may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment.

If you're a woman, you can get a Winter Fuel Payment once you've reached state pension age.

If you're a man, you can get a Winter Fuel Payment once you've reached the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you.

Free prescriptions

If you live in England, you can get free prescriptions from the age of 60. Prescriptions are already free for everyone in the rest of the UK.

For more information about prescriptions, see Help with health costs

State Pension

Once you reach state pension age you may be able to get State Pension.

Benefits for people who are looking for work

If you're unemployed and looking for work, you must be under state pension age to get Jobseeker's Allowance. If you are over state pension age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit instead. If you are an unemployed man under 65 but over the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you, you can choose to claim Pension Credit instead of Jobseeker's Allowance and you will not have to sign on as unemployed.

For more information about Jobseeker's Allowance, see Benefits for people looking for work

Benefits for people with a disability or caring for a disabled person

If you are disabled, you may be able to claim benefit for the extra costs of your disability. This will depend on your age and other circumstances. If you look after a disabled person in their own home, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you are already getting benefits because you have a disability or look after a disabled person, some of these benefits will be affected when you reach state pension age. For example, you can't get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) when you reach state pension age. If you are getting Carer’s Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance, this will be affected by any State Pension you get.

For more information about benefits for people who are disabled, see Benefits for people who are sick or disabled.

If you are getting benefits because of a disability and you are near pension age, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

Help if you are widowed

If your husband, wife or civil partner has died, you cannot get a weekly Bereavement Benefit once you have reached state pension age. However, you may be able to get State Pension based on the national insurance contributions of your late spouse or civil partner.

In some circumstances, you may be able to claim a Bereavement Payment that is a lump sum one-off payment.  Whether you can get a Bereavement Payment will depend on your age when your husband, wife or civil partner died and whether they were entitled to a State Pension at the time.

For more information about bereavement benefits, see Benefits and bereavement.

Help if you look after children

If you have responsibility for children, you may be able to claim Child Benefit for the children, and, depending on your income, Child Tax Credit.

For more information about Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, see Benefits for families and children.

Help if you are working

If you work more than 16 hours a week, you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit, depending on your other income. There is no upper age limit for Working Tax Credit. Remember that any earnings will affect benefits and tax credits.

For more information about Working Tax Credit, see Benefits and tax credits for people in work.

You do not have to give up work when you claim State Pension, and it is not affected by your earnings. Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance can also be paid if you are working.

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State Pension

State Pension is a benefit that most people can get when they reach state pension age. Whether you can get it depends on your national insurance contribution record.

You don't have to stop working in order to get State Pension. Your earnings will not affect the amount you get. However, the amount of tax you pay may increase because State Pension is taxable.

You can choose to claim State Pension at state pension age or you can put off your claim until later. This is known as deferring your claim. If you defer your claim, you will get extra pension when you do claim, which you can chose to take as an increased weekly pension or a one-off lump sum. You can find out more about deferring your claim on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk. In Northern Ireland, you can get more information about deferring your pension from the nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

State Pension is administered by the Pension Service in England, Wales and Scotland, and by the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

State Pension is changing

State Pension is changing for people who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2016. This will affect you if you are:

  • a man born on or after 6 April 1951
  • a woman born on or after 6 April 1953.

If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you are not affected by these changes, even if you have put off claiming your State Pension. You will still be able to claim a State Pension under the old rules, or continue to get the State Pension that you are already getting now.

In Northern Ireland, these changes are not yet law.

If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016

If you reach state pension age before 6 April 2016, your State Pension is made up of a basic pension, plus any additional pension or graduated pension you may be entitled to if you have paid the necessary national insurance contributions. You may also get extra pension as a result of deferring your claim.

You need 30 qualifying years of national insurance contributions to get a full basic State Pension. If you don’t have enough qualifying years, you may get a reduced amount.

Additional State Pension is paid automatically on top of your basic State Pension if you qualify for it. It is based on contributions that you paid as an employee, provided you were in a workplace pension scheme that was 'contracted in' to the Additional State Pension. Some people don’t get it, for example because they were self-employed or because they were in a workplace pension scheme that was ‘contracted out’ of this part of the State Pension, such as a final salary scheme.

Graduated pension is based on contributions you may have paid on earnings between 1961 and 1975. You can get this even if you are not entitled to any basic State Pension. However, the amounts of graduated pension are small, so you may get a lump-sum payment instead of weekly payments.

If you haven’t paid enough national insurance contributions yourself, but are or have been married or in a civil partnership, you may be able to get some State Pension based on your husband, wife or civil partner's national insurance contributions.

If you are 80 or over, you may be able to get some State Pension even if you haven’t paid enough national insurance contributions. If you are already getting some State Pension, you will get the over 80 pension automatically. If you're not getting any State Pension, you should claim it when you reach 80. But remember, this only applies if you reach state pension age before 6 April 2016.

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016

If all your contributions are paid or credited on or after 6 April 2016, you will need 35 qualifying years of contributions to get a full State Pension. If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years, you can still get a reduced amount, provided you have at least ten qualifying years.

If you have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions before 6 April 2016, these will be taken into account when your new State Pension is calculated. The amount of pension you get for these contributions will be at least as much as you would have got under the old State Pension, provided you have at least ten qualifying years. These can be from before or after 6 April 2016 and they don’t have to be ten years in a row.

If you reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you won’t get any Additional State Pension, graduated pension or non-contributory over 80s pension, as these are being abolished under the new State Pension scheme. However, the basic State Pension will be paid at a higher rate than before, which is expected to be at least £148.40 per week. You may get more or less than this depending on your national insurance contribution record.

You will not normally be able to claim a State Pension based on your husband, wife or civil partner’s contributions, although there are some limited exceptions.

Increases for someone who depends on you financially

It used to be possible to claim an increase of your State Pension for someone else who depends on you financially.

Since 6 April 2010, it has no longer been possible to claim an increase of your State Pension for an adult dependant such as a wife, husband, or civil partner. If you were already entitled to this increase on 5 April 2010, you will be able to keep it until you no longer meet the conditions for entitlement or until 5 April 2020, whichever comes first.

If you claimed State Pension before 5 April 2003, you may be entitled to an increase for your children. You can continue to get this increase as long as you get Child Benefit. If you first claimed State Pension after 5 April 2003, you won't be entitled to an increase for your children. You should claim Child Tax Credit instead.

For more information about Child Tax Credit, see Benefits for families and children.

State Pension rates

State Pension Weekly rate from 7 April 2014
Basic pension£113.10
Increase for spouse or someone looking after children (only paid if you claimed before 6 April 2010)£64.90
Increase for children (only paid if you claimed before 5 April 2003) 
For first child£8.05
For each additional child£11.35
Age addition for over 80s£0.25
State Pension for people over 80 who haven't paid enough national insurance£67.80

How to claim State Pension

You don't get State Pension automatically. You usually have to make a claim for it.

The Pension Service should contact you before you reach state pension age and explain how you can claim State Pension. If they do not get in touch, you should contact the Pension Service (see www.gov.uk for contacts details for your area) or the State Pension claim line on 0800 731 7898 (textphone 0800 731 7339).

You can also claim online on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

There is also a Welsh language line which is 0800 731 7936 or textphone 0800 731 7013.

In Northern Ireland you can contact the State Pension claim line on 0808 100 2658 (textphone 0808 100 2198). Or you can claim online on the nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

The claim form for State Pension is BR1. If you get in touch by phone, the Pension Service can help you to make your claim over the phone. You will not get a claim form. At the end of the phone call, you should be advised how much State Pension you are entitled to.

When you make your claim for State Pension, you must include your national insurance number.

You will also have to show that the number belongs to you by proving your identity, for example, by providing a birth certificate or passport. If you think you have a national insurance number but you do not know it, you should include information to help the office to find it.  If you do not have a national insurance number, you will have to apply for one before you can claim State Pension.  You will have to prove that you have reached state pension age, for example by providing your birth certificate, passport, or health records.

For more information about national insurance numbers, see National insurance – contributions and benefits.

If you have problems providing your national insurance number or proving your identity, or if you have difficulty proving your date of birth, you should consult an adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

Going into hospital

You can carry on getting your State Pension while you are in hospital.

Going abroad

If you go to live abroad, you can still get your State Pension. In some countries, including all the countries in the European Economic Area, you will be able to get the annual increases in your pension that would be paid if you were still living in the UK. In other countries, your pension will stay at the same rate and you will not get an annual increase.

You should tell the Pension Service International Pension Centre that you are going to live abroad by telephoning 0191 218 7777 (text phone 0191 218 7280). There is more information about getting your State Pension abroad at www.gov.uk.

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Winter Fuel Payment

A Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free payment for older people.

Winter Fuel Payment is paid every year during the winter to help with your fuel costs. However, you can choose how you use the money. Winter Fuel Payment does not depend on how cold the weather gets. There are other payments that are only paid when the weather reaches a certain temperature, called cold weather payments. These are made to people on some income- related benefits during cold weather.

For more information about cold weather payments, see Help for people on a low income – the Social Fund.

Who can get a Winter Fuel Payment

If you're a woman, you can claim a Winter Fuel Payment when you reach state pension age. You must be state pension age in the qualifying week for the winter concerned. The qualifying week always begins on the third Monday of September.

If you're a man, you can claim a Winter Fuel Payment when you reach the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you. You must be this age in the qualifying week for the winter concerned.

To qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment for the winter of 2014/2015 you must have been born on or before 5 July 1952.

There are some people who cannot get a payment even if they are the qualifying age. You will not get a Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you are in hospital getting free treatment throughout the qualifying week, and have been there for over a year, or
  • you are in prison serving a sentence, throughout the qualifying week, or
  • you live in a care home and you get Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). (You can get a Winter Fuel Payment if you are in a care home and not getting one of these benefits), or
  • your partner has reached the qualifying age for a Winter Fuel Payment and gets Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related ESA for both of you. The Winter Fuel Payment will be made to them.

You normally have to live in the UK to get a Winter Fuel Payment and have no immigration conditions on your stay that would prevent you getting help from the Department for Work and Pensions.

If you have been getting a Winter Fuel Payment and move to another European Economic Area country or to Switzerland you may be able to continue to receive payments. From 2013/14 if you live in another European Economic Area country or in Switzerland, you may be able to get a Winter Fuel Payment even if you have not previously received one in the UK. However, you will only be able to get a payment in these circumstances if you can show that you have a 'genuine and sufficient' link with the UK, for example, you are receiving a UK pension or you have spent a significant part of your life in the UK, or you have worked in the UK and paid national insurance contributions there. You must also be covered by certain European rules on social security.

If you are not sure whether or not you can get a Winter Fuel Payment, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

How much is a Winter Fuel Payment

For the winter of 2014/2015 the Winter Fuel Payment is between £100 and £300, depending on your circumstances. You can find details of the rates on the GOV.UK website at: www.gov.uk.

If you are not sure which rate of Winter Fuel Payment you are entitled to, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

How to get a Winter Fuel Payment

Most people who are entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment do not need to make a claim. If you get State Pension, Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Incapacity Benefit, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance or a Bereavement Benefit, and you are getting one of these benefits in the qualifying week you do not need to make a claim. A Winter Fuel Payment will be made automatically.

If you successfully claimed a Winter Fuel Payment the previous year and your circumstances have not changed, you also do not need to make a claim.

If you are not getting one of these benefits in the qualifying week and you have not successfully claimed a Winter Fuel Payment before, you will have to make a claim. The Department for Work and Pensions may get in touch with you anyway and send you a claim form.  If this does not happen, you can get a claim form from the Winter Fuel Payments helpline or from the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.

In Northern Ireland you can get a claim form from the Winter Fuel Payment Centre or from the nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk

If you need to make a claim, you must make sure that your claim form arrives by 31 March following the winter for which you are claiming.

Backdated Winter Fuel Payments

You cannot claim a Winter Fuel Payment for previous winters.

The Winter Fuel Payments helpline

The Winter Fuel Payments helpline is on 0845 915 1515 (text phone 0845 601 5613). You can use this helpline for any queries you have about Winter Fuel Payments, or to find out what is happening if you are expecting a payment and it is late.

Problems with Winter Fuel Payments

If you have made a claim for a Winter Fuel Payment do not get one, or get less than you think you should, you can challenge the decision which has been made on your claim. If you have not made a claim, you should get in touch with the Winter Fuel Payments helpline and ask for a formal decision to be made. Once you have a decision, you can challenge it. If you are not happy with the service provided by the Winter Fuel Payments helpline or the Pension Service, for example, because of mistakes or delays, you can complain. You can do this whether or not you also want to challenge a decision.

For more information about challenging a benefit decision and about complaining, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

If you do not agree with a Winter Fuel Payment decision or you want to make a complaint, you can also consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

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Christmas Bonus

If you are getting State Pension or Pension Credit, you will be entitled to a Christmas Bonus. This is usually  £10 a year. In some cases, you can also get a bonus for your partner.

Christmas Bonuses are not just paid to people getting State Pension or Pension Credit, they can also be paid to some people getting disability benefits or bereavement benefits.

To find out more about the Christmas Bonus, go to the GOV.UK website at /www.gov.uk or phone the special enquiry line on 0800 141 2591.

In Northern Ireland, go to the Nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

For more information about disability benefits, see Benefits for people who are sick or disabled. For more information about bereavement benefits, see Benefits and bereavement.

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Pension Credit

Pension Credit is a benefit for older people. It is based on the amount of money that you have coming in.

Pension Credit is made up of guarantee credit and savings credit. The guarantee credit of Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed level. The savings credit is for people who have a small amount of their own income or savings. You may be entitled to the guarantee credit or the savings credit, or both.  You can claim Pension Credit whether or not you are still working.  You do not need to have paid any national insurance contributions.

Pension Credit is administered by The Pension Service.

Who can get Pension Credit

If you're a woman, to claim Pension Credit you must be state pension age.

If you're a man, you can claim Pension Credit when you reach the state pension age of a woman born on the same day and in the same year as you.

You can work out the exact date of your state pension age by using the state pension age calculator on GOV.UK website. Go to: www.gov.uk. if you are a man, the calculator will also help you work out whether you're entitled to Pension Credit.

You claim Pension Credit for yourself and your partner who lives with you. If you, your partner, or both of you, are living permanently in a care home, you will usually each have to claim Pension Credit as single people.

There are different rules for getting the guarantee credit and the savings credit. Remember that you may be entitled to both, so it is worth giving all the details on the claim form.

Who can get the guarantee credit

If you're a woman, you can claim guarantee credit when you reach state pension age.

If you're a man, you can claim guarantee credit when you reach the state pension age of a woman born on the same day as you.

You must be living in the UK and not have any immigration controls on your stay here that would stop you claiming benefits. You must also have income below a certain amount. The amount depends on your circumstances. There is no limit on how much capital - that is savings and property - you can have, but you will be treated as having income from any of your capital above £10,000. However, some capital is ignored, for example, your personal possessions and the home you own and live in. Certain other types of property are also ignored. For full details of other property which is ignored, you should get advice.

Who can get the savings credit

You can get the savings credit if you or your partner is 65 or over. It does not matter which of you makes the claim for Pension Credit. You must be living in the UK and not have any immigration controls on your stay here that would stop you claiming benefits. You must have more than a certain amount of income, but not so much that you do not get any savings credit.

How much Pension Credit can you get

When you apply for Pension Credit, the Pension Service will first work out if you are entitled to any guarantee credit, and if so how much. Then they will look at whether you can get any savings credit.

There is a pension credit calculator at www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator. This will give you an idea of how much you might get.

How much is your guarantee credit

Your weekly income (which includes your partner’s income if you live with your partner) is compared to a fixed weekly amount called the ’appropriate minimum guarantee’. The ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’ will vary for each person because it is made up of different elements which depend on your circumstances. The rates of the different elements are fixed and are usually increased every April.

You will only be entitled to guarantee credit if your income is less than the ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’. Only certain types of income count for Pension Credit and not all your income will be taken into account, which means it does not affect your Pension Credit. Other income is partially disregarded, which means you can get a certain amount each week before it affects your Pension Credit.  For example, child maintenance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance are all fully disregarded. Savings above £10,000 will be treated as if they add £1 a week to your income for every extra £500 of savings (or part of £500).

Your amount of your guarantee credit is the difference between your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’ and your income. If your income is more than your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’, you will not get any guarantee credit, but you may still get some savings credit.

Your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’ includes a standard minimum guarantee which is a set amount for a single person and a set amount for a couple. If you have additional needs, for example, because you are disabled, additional amounts will be added to your ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’. There are additional amounts for severe disability and for caring for a disabled person. If you have been transferred to Pension Credit from Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you may also get an extra amount to make sure you are not any worse off.

If you want more information about the additional amounts in guarantee credit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

Guarantee credit and housing costs

If you have a mortgage or home loan, you may be able to get an extra amount to help with your mortgage interest. You may also be able to get help towards some other housing costs, for example, rent as a Crown tenant, ground rent for long leases and some service charges. However, in most circumstances, if you rent your home you cannot get any guarantee credit for housing costs and you should claim Housing Benefit instead.

For more information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent – Housing Benefit.

If there are other adults living in your home apart from your partner, your landlord, or a joint owner, tenant or lodger, a deduction may be made from the housing costs which guarantee credit can cover. This might apply, for example, if you have an adult son or daughter living with you.

If you want more information about the guarantee credit, you can go to www.gov.uk, or you can consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

In Northern Ireland, for more information about the guarantee credit, you can go to www.nidirect.gov.uk.

How much savings credit

The amount of savings credit you can get depends on whether you have more or less weekly income that the ‘savings credit threshold’. This is a rate which is set each year and depends on whether you are a single person or a member of a couple. If your income is less than or equal to the savings credit threshold, you will not get any savings credit. If your income is more than the savings credit threshold, you may get some savings credit. However, if your income is greater than your ‘appropriate minimum income guarantee’ (see under How much guarantee credit, above), it may be too high to get any savings credit.

Working out savings credit is complicated. You can find out more about the calculation at www.gov.uk or you can consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

In Northern Ireland, you can find out more about the savings credit calculation at www.dsdni.gov.uk.

How to claim Pension Credit

You can claim Pension Credit by telephone. The advantage of claiming this way is that, sometimes, the Pension Service can make a decision and put payments into place immediately. If you get an occupational pension, they may be able to contact your pension provider to confirm the details of your pension payments while you are on the phone. If you need it, they can arrange a home visit to help you claim.

The number to ring in England, Wales and Scotland is:

Pension Credit claims line
Tel: 0800 991 234 (Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm)
Textphone: 0800 169 0133

In Northern Ireland, the Pension Service application line is 0808 100 6165 (textphone 0808 1001165).

When you claim by telephone you will need to have details of:

  • your national insurance number
  • how much money you have coming in each week, for example, your pension
  • any savings and investments you have
  • your housing costs, if any, for example, mortgage interest payments, or service charges.

If you have a partner you will need the same information about them.

If you prefer, you can claim Pension Credit by completing a claim form. You can fill it in online or print it off and fill it in on paper. The form is available on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk. In Northern Ireland go to www.nidirect.gov.uk where the claim form is also available.

To make a valid claim for Pension Credit, you must provide certain information, usually within one month of making your claim. For example, you will need your national insurance number or evidence to allow the Pension Service to find your number. If you do not have a national insurance number, you will have to apply for one.

For more information about national insurance numbers, see National insurance - contributions and benefits.

You will also have to prove your identity. You may be able to do this by providing a document such as a driving licence, birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate, or a passport. You may be asked to provide more than one piece of evidence. If you do not have any documentary evidence, try to provide as much other evidence and facts about yourself as possible.

You will also have to provide evidence of your income. This evidence could include, for example, pension payslips, proof of service charges, and proof of any other money you receive. You have to send or show the Pension Service original documents, not photocopies. They will be returned to you as soon as possible.

If you want further help with your claim, you can call the national Pension Service number or you could consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

Getting Pension Credit backdated

Usually you get Pension Credit from the day that you first get in touch with the Pension Service to tell them you want to claim. You will have to supply all the required information to support your claim within one month.  However, you may be able to get Pension Credit for a period of up to three months before you make your claim.  You do not have to give a reason for making a late claim, as long as you explain on your claim form when you first became entitled to Pension Credit.

Pension Credit, change in circumstances and fraud

You may commit benefit fraud if you give incorrect or misleading information, or fail to report a change of circumstances, which affects your Pension Credit. Even if you are not committing fraud, you can cause an overpayment, which will have to be repaid. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted or asked to pay a penalty.

For more information on what to do if you are asked to attend an interview under caution, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

If you are worried about whether you might be suspected of fraud, you are under investigation or you have been convicted, or if you have been asked to repay an overpayment of benefit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

How is Pension Credit paid

Pension Credit will usually be paid directly into your bank, building society or Post Office card account.  If you would have difficulty opening or managing a suitable account, the Pension Service can pay you using Simple Payment. They will give you a Simple Payment card that you can use to collect payment at a PayPoint outlet displaying the Simple Payment sign.

For more information about methods of payment, see Payment of benefits and tax credits.

Pension Credit and other help

If you are getting any guarantee credit (on its own or with savings credit), you will automatically get the maximum amount of help when you apply for other benefits, and you will get help with certain costs. If you are getting savings credit on its own, you may still be able to get help with some of these costs.

Being on guarantee credit means you will get maximum Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. You will also get help with health costs, for example, free prescriptions, and help with the cost of court fees. Being on savings credit or guarantee credit means you can apply for help from the social fund, for example, budgeting loans and funeral payments.

For more information about other help you may be able to claim, see Help for people on a low income – the Social Fund.

Problems with Pension Credit

If you have made a claim for Pension Credit and been refused, or think that the amount you have been awarded is wrong, you can challenge the decision. You should do this within one month of the decision.

If you unhappy with the service you have received from the Pension Service, for example, because of delays or errors, you should complain. You can do this whether or not you are also challenging a Pension Credit decision.

For more information about challenging decisions, and about complaining, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

If you are not happy with a Pension Credit decision or you want to make a complaint you can also consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

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If you need help to claim or collect benefits

If you need help to claim or collect your benefits, you can ask for someone else to become your appointee or agent. An appointee can take on the responsibility of claiming and collecting your benefit if you are unable to do this yourself. An agent cannot make a claim for you, but you can arrange for an agent to collect your benefit from a bank, building society or post office if you are unable to get there.

If you want to appoint someone as an appointee or agent, or you want to become one for an elderly person you know, there is information at www.gov.uk. If you need more advice you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

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Citizens Advice

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