The BBC has announced it is to go ahead with plans to end free TV licences for the majority of people over the age of 75, after delaying the decision for two months due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The move will mean more than three million UK households will have to start paying the annual £157.50 fee as of 1 August.
However, those who receive Pension Credit will be exempt from the charge.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit that is applicable to those aged over State Pension age, which is rising from 65 to 66 in 2020 for both men and women.
The benefit provides pensioners with a top-up to their income, which can be paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and it is available to both single adults and couples.
More than three million households in the UK are eligible to receive it, yet four out of 10 fail to do so, according to the government - often because people are not aware they are entitled to it.
Who is eligible to claim it?
To claim Pension Credit, you must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached State Pension age to qualify for the benefit.
If you are in a couple, you can start claiming once you and your partner have both reached State Pension age, or if one of you received Housing Benefit for people over State Pension age.
Your partner is your husband, wife or civil partner, if you live with them, or someone else you live with as if you were married.
How much will I get?
Pension Credit is made up of two parts - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit - with the amount you receive based on your income, as well as how much you have saved or invested.
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it is below £173.75 for single people, or £265.20 for couples. However, you may still be eligible if you have savings, a pension or your own home.
Savings Credit is an additional payment for people who saved money towards their retirement, such as a pension. For single people, this top-up payment amounts to £13.97 per week, while couples will receive a top-up of £15.62 per week.
If you are a carer, severely disable, responsible for a child or young person, or have certain housing costs, you may be entitled to receive more.
You can use the Pension Credit calculator online to work out how much you might get.
You cannot use the calculator if you or your partner:
- are deferring your State Pension
- own more than one property
- are self employed
- have housing costs (such as service charges or Crown Tenant rent), which are neither mortgage repayments nor rent covered by Housing Benefit
How do I claim it?
You can begin your application up to four months before you reach State Pension age, or any time after, but your claim can only be backdated for three months. As such, you can only get up to three months of Pension Credit in your first payment if you were eligible during that time.
To apply, you will need:
- your National Insurance number
- information about your income, savings and investments
- your bank account details, if you are applying by phone or by post
If you are backdating your claim, you will need details of your income, savings and investments on the date you want your claim to start.
Applications can be made online via the government website.
Alternatively, you can call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234, or textphone on 0800 169 0133. If you cannot hear or speak on the phone, dial 18001, followed by 0800 99 1234. Phone lines are open on weekdays from 9.30am to 6pm.
To apply by post, print out and fill in the Pension Credit claim form or call the claim line to request a form.
What other benefits am I entitled to?
If you receive Pension Credit, it also means you can qualify for a number of other benefits.
- Free TV licence for over-75s - from 1 August 2020, worth £157.50 per year
- Council Tax reduction – potentially worth between £1,000 and £2,000 per year
- Warm home discount – worth £140 per year
- Housing Benefit – potentially worth around £1,000 per year
- Cold weather payments – potentially worth £25 per week in winter
- Free home insulation and boiler grants - worth around £1,000
- Free dental treatment – potentially worth around £100 per year
- Voucher for glasses or contact lenses – worth £39 to £215 depending on your prescription