Understanding Pension Credit
If you’ve reached the minimum qualifying age you may be entitled to Pension Credit - extra money each week. It's made up of two elements - 'Guarantee Credit' and 'Savings Credit' (which may be payable from age 65).
Who is eligible?
If you live in Northern Ireland and reach the minimum qualifying age, you may be entitled to the 'Guarantee Credit' element (which guarantees a minimum income if you're on a low income) and either of the following applies to you:
- you're single and your weekly income is below £148.35
- you have a partner and your joint weekly income is below £226.50
'Partner’ refers to your husband, wife or civil partner, or the person you live with as if they were your husband, wife or civil partner.
But you might get more Pension Credit if you have caring responsibilities, have severe disabilities or have certain housing costs.
The age when you can get Pension Credit is going up to 66 in line with the increase in State Pension age for women and the further increase to 66 for men and women. Use the State Pension age calculator to find out more about the rise in women's State Pension age and when you can apply for Pension Credit.
If you're aged 65 or over
If you or your partner are aged 65 or over you could be entitled to the 'Savings Credit' element if either of the following applies to you:
- you're single and your total weekly income (such as pensions, savings, earnings and investments) is between £120.35 and £190.35 a week
- you have a partner and your joint weekly income (such as pensions, savings, earnings and investments) is between £192.00 and £278.20 a week
For more details you can telephone the Pension Credit enquiry line:
- Northern Ireland Pension Centre (contacts section)
- Contacting 08 and 03 telephone numbers (contacts section)
What counts as income?
Income that's taken into account includes:
- State Pension
- workplace and personal pensions
- most social security benefits like Carer's Allowance
- an 'assumed income' of £1 a week for every £500 (or part of £500) of 'capital' you have over £10,000 (capital includes savings and investments, and property that's not your main home)
- earnings after tax and expenses from employment or self-employment, less half of any occupational or personal pension contribution you make
- Working Tax Credit
Income that's ignored includes:
- Attendance Allowance
- Christmas Bonus
- Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
- War Widow's Supplementary Pension
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
To get complete lists, you can telephone the Pension Credit enquiry line:
- Northern Ireland Pension Centre (contacts section)
- Attendance Allowance - introduction (people with disabilities section)
- The cost of contacting 08 and 03 telephone numbers (contacts section)
How much do you get?
The qualifying age or over - guarantee credit element
If you live in Northern Ireland and have reached the minimum qualifying age:
- if you're single, you’ll get the difference between £148.35 and your total weekly income if it's less than this
- if you live with a partner, you’ll get the difference between £226.50 and your joint total weekly income if it's less than this
But you may get more money if you have caring responsibilities, have severe disabilities or have certain housing costs.
Age 65 or over - savings credit element
If you or your partner are aged 65 or over, you may be entitled to Guarantee credit, Savings Credit or both.
Savings Credit is a maximum:
- £16.60 weekly if you're single
- £20.70 weekly if you have a partner
How it's paid
'Direct payment' into an account is the Social Security Agency’s normal way of paying pensions and benefits. It is a safe, convenient and efficient payment method.
Effect on other benefits
If you're getting Pension Credit you may also qualify for:
- Housing Benefit
- help with mortgage interest payments
- Cold Weather Payment
- Funeral Payment
- Community Care Grant
- Budgeting Loans
- Crisis Loans
- Winter Fuel Payment
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- free school meals
- Northern Ireland Pension Centre - Pension Credit (contacts section)
- Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office (contacts section)
When to apply for Pension Credit
You can apply up to four months before the date when you start getting Pension Credit. The Pension Credit qualifying age is gradually increasing in line with the increase in women's State Pension age. You can use the State Pension age calculator to find out the date you can start claiming Pension Credit.
The maximum period for backdating your Pension Credit claim is three months.
If you want Pension Credit to start on a past or future date, you need to tell the Northern Ireland Pension Centre when you apply.
How to apply
Over the telephone
You can telephone the Northern Ireland Pension Centre, Pension Credit. An adviser will explain how to apply for Pension Credit.
Housing Benefit, Rate Relief or help with mortgage interest payments
The Northern Ireland Pension Centre can also help you apply for Housing Benefit at the same time as your application for Pension Credit.
Or you may qualify for help with your mortgage interest payments:
Download a form and print
You can download, print, complete the application form and post to the Northern Ireland Pension Centre, Pension Credit.
What to do if your circumstances change
Tell the Northern Ireland Pension Centre, Pension Credit if your circumstances change, so you continue to get the right amount of Pension Credit.
- Northern Ireland Pension Service Enquiry Line (for general Pension Credit enquiries) (contacts section)
How to appeal
If you're refused Pension Credit or think it's been calculated wrongly, ask the Northern Ireland Pension Centre to reconsider the decision. If you're still unhappy with the outcome you can appeal to an independent Appeal Tribunal.