It is estimated that about 17,000 Derbyshire pensioners are entitled to, but not claiming, the pension top-up, with the take-up rate for those aged over 75 at only 60%.
To help local residents find out if they qualify, Derbyshire County Council has staff on hand to support them to claim their share of £41m a year in unclaimed benefits.
From June next year, only pensioners aged 75 or over and who are on Pension Credit will continue to get a free TV licence from the BBC, so it’s thought many more people will begin to claim.
But that still leaves thousands of pensioners aged under 75 in Derbyshire – as well as those in their 80s and 90s – who could qualify but are missing out on income they’re entitled to.
Our cabinet member for Adult Care, Councillor Jean Wharmby is urging pensioners across the county to get in touch. She said:
“We know claiming benefits can be a complex process that’s why we’re making it as easy as possible for people to apply.
“Our Welfare Rights Team is on hand to help people find out if they qualify and help fill in the forms.”
Pensioners who qualify for Pension Credit get on average around £2,500 a year – just under £250 a month.
The money could come in handy for any number of things, said Councillor Wharmby, from help with the gardening or cleaning, to transport and travel costs.
She’s keen to bust myths around why people don’t claim, revealing local pensioners could qualify even if:
- they have significant savings (in the tens of thousands of pounds)
- they’re a couple with up to £460 a week coming in, but they both qualify for disability benefits and are carers for each other
- they own their own home
Some people don’t know they can claim, some struggle to apply and some feel embarrassed about needing the extra help, she explained.
“There are lots of reasons why people aren’t claiming. Mostly around people thinking they don’t qualify for one reason or another, such as owning their own home or having too much in the bank.
“Or they think it’s too complicated or not worth it for a few pounds. But that extra bit of cash could unlock other benefits, such as council tax, housing benefit or TV Licence.
“Putting in a phone call to us or visiting our website could potentially lead to them being thousands of pounds better off."
To check if you could qualify for Pension Credit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01629 531535 between 11am and 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Find out more about welfare benefits.