From 15th May, new rules will affect couples where one person is over the state retirement age and the other partner is younger.
The government has announced big changes to the way couples can claim their Pension Credit. We explore what this could mean for you and what you can do about it.
What’s this story about?
Currently, couples can either claim Pension Credit or Universal Credit. Pension Credit is aimed towards older people with a lower income and it can be paid on top of their State Pension.
From 15 May 2019, however, anyone in a ‘mixed-age’ couple (an age gap) will not be able to claim Pension Credit until both members of the couple have reached state retirement age.
Couples with larger age gaps will take a bigger hit, as they’re facing a longer period of time where they’re unable to claim the benefit.
As Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK says:
“There is no doubt in our minds that many unsuspecting pensioners will face a heavy financial penalty for having a younger partner and this will undoubtedly affect the health and wellbeing of many of those couples.”
What does this mean for you?
If your retirement is on the horizon and your partner is older or younger, you may have to claim Universal Credit until you’ve both reached the state retirement age.
The personal allowance for a couple claiming Universal Credit will be roughly £114.80 a week – a significant drop from the £255.25 a week you’d receive from Pension Credit. This adds up to a huge £7,300 a year, which in turn could be costing you a total of over £35,000 if you have just a five-year age gap.
If you’re in a mixed-aged couple and already claim Pension Credit, you won’t be affected by these new rules.
However, if there’s a break in your claims – even if it’s just for one day – you may not be able to return to the old benefits.
Our key tips
The new rules kick in on 15 May, so there’s still time for mixed-aged couples to claim their pension benefits and receive them.
Couples eligible before 15 May will still be able to make a backdated claim for Pension Credit up to 13 August 2019.
- Act now – if you’re coming up to retirement age, Age UK advise to act fast to claim your Pension Credit as soon as possible
- Don’t make a break in your claims – if you’re already on the old benefits, it’d make sense to keep on track to avoid facing the new rules
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