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Are you a couple where one has already reached state pension age* while the other hasn't? If the answer is yes – read on.

From 15 May 2019 the rules on Pension Credit are changing. Currently couples on a low income can claim Pension Credit if one person is over state pension age and one person is under state pension age. After 15 May 2019 if one partner in a couple is over state pension age and one is below, you will have to claim Universal Credit instead. Only couples where BOTH partners are over state pension age will be able to claim Pension Credit.

Pension Credit gives a guaranteed minimum income for pensioners. From April 2019 the Pension Credit Guarantee is £255.25 a week, but under Universal Credit the maximum level of personal support is £114.85 a week. The amounts will vary based on your own circumstances, but as a couple you could lose out on up to £140 a week (or £7,000 a year). And this will apply every week until BOTH you and your partner reach pension age.

The change means that all couples where one person is over state pension age and one is under, should check their benefit entitlement before 15 May 2019. If you are entitled to Pension Credit and claim it before 15 May you won't be affected but if you try to claim after the deadline you will be too late and will have to claim Universal Credit instead.

You can check your entitlement using the UNISON benefits calculator: Check before it's too late

Notes:

*State pension age for men and women is currently over 65. However in the last few years, because of changes to women's state pension age, some women may have reached their state pension age between 60 and 65 and may not have claimed pension credit.

Pension Credit is a benefit for older people who are on a low income to top up their weekly income. Official figures suggest that over a million people who are entitled to claim don't claim it. Some of these people are in mixed age couples.

Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people that replaces a number of existing benefits and tax credits. It is designed to support people who have a low (or no) income with their basic living expenses and housing costs.

Mar 14, 2019