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).

Guarantee Credit

If you are living in Northern Ireland and have reached the minimum qualifying age, you may be entitled to Guarantee Credit. This guarantees a minimum income by topping up your weekly income to:

  • £155.60 if you are single
  • £237.55 if you have a partner

These amounts may be more if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments.

Qualifying age

The age when you can get the Guarantee Credit, the qualifying age, is increasing to 65 in line with the increase in State Pension age for women, and the further increase to 66 for men and women.

To find out the age when you may be able to apply for Pension Credit, you can use the State Pension age calculator.

While you must have reached the qualifying age, you can still claim if your partner is under the qualifying age. If you or your partner are both over the qualifying age either one of you can apply.

Partner

‘Partner’ refers to:

  • your husband
  • your wife
  • your civil partner
  • the person you live with as if they were your husband, wife or civil partner

Savings Credit

If you are aged 65 or over and living in Northern Ireland you may be entitled to Savings Credit. 

To qualify for the extra Savings Credit you or your partner must be 65 or over and have made some provision towards your retirement such as savings or a second pension.

You’re treated as a couple if you live with your husband, wife or partner. You don’t have to be married or in a civil partnership.

You can still apply for Savings Credit after 6 April 2016 if you reached State Pension age before that date.

The Savings Credit can be up to:

  • £13.07 a week if you are single
  • £14.75 a week if you have a partner

You may get the Savings Credit if your ‘Weekly Qualifying Income’ is at least::

  • £133.82 a week if you are single
  • £212.97 a week if you have a partner

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016

Most people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 won’t be eligible for Savings Credit. But you may continue to get Savings Credit if both of the following apply:

  • you’re in a couple and one of you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016
  • you were getting Savings Credit up to 6 April 2016

If you stop being eligible for Savings Credit for any reason from 6 April 2016, you won’t be able to get it again. 

Who can get it

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 £155.60
  • you have a partner and your joint weekly income is below £237.55

'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.

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 up to about £188.00 a week
  • you have a partner and your joint weekly income (such as pensions, interest from savings, earnings and investments) is up to about £274.00 a week

These amounts may be more if you have a disability, have caring responsibilities or certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments.

For more details you can telephone the Pension Credit enquiry line:

When to apply

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.

Applying for Pension Credit

For information about how to apply including when to apply, downloading an application form, asking for a form and claiming by telephone, visit the following page:

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.

Income and benefits

Your income may affect how much Pension Credit you can get. Find out more about how your income may affect Pension Credit, how Pension Credit is paid and how it might affect your other benefits, on the following page:

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.

How to appeal

If you're refused Pension Credit or think it's been calculated wrongly, ask the Northern Ireland Pension Centre to take the decision again. If you're still unhappy with the outcome you can appeal to an independent Appeal Tribunal.

Examples

The following examples show how much Pension Credit different people might get.

Jackie – single, age 63

Jackie is single, aged 63 and owns her own home. She has a State Pension of £119.30. She has no other income. Her savings are £5,000.

Jackie will get Guarantee Credit of £36.30 a week, bringing her total weekly income to £155.60. Her savings of £5,000 are ignored because they are below £10,000.

Jackie is 63 and is only eligible for Guarantee Credit.

Jackie will get full Housing Benefit, and help with other things like dental fees because she gets Guarantee Credit.

Sarah and Stephen – couple, both 75

Sarah and Stephen are both 75 and have £256.95 a week:

  • Basic State Pension (Sarah) £119.30
  • Basic State Pension (Stephen) £71.50
  • personal pension (Sarah) £59.15
  • savings of £13,500 (£1.00 is deducted for every £500 of savings they have over £10,000, which is £7.00 for £13,500)

As Sarah and Stephen’s income is over £237.55, they cannot get Guarantee Credit, but they are entitled to £6.99 Savings Credit.

Sarah and Stephen will get Pension Credit of £6.99, bringing their weekly income to £263.94.

John – single, age 63

John is 63 and gave up full time work eight months ago. He lives alone in his own home and earns £85.00 a week from a part time job.

In John’s earnings, £5.00 is ignored and the remaining £80.00 counts as income for Pension Credit purposes. John will get Guarantee Credit of £75.60, bringing his total weekly income to £160.60.

John cannot get Savings Credit as he is only 63. 

Betty – single, age 75

Betty is 75, severely disabled and lives alone. She has £9,000 in savings and gets £201.60 from:

  • Basic State Pension £119.30
  • Attendance Allowance £82.30

When working out her Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and Betty's savings (less than £10,000) do not count as qualifying income.

Betty gets Pension Credit of £98.15 a week (this includes an extra £61.85 a week because she is severely disabled). This brings her total weekly income up to £299.75.

Betty cannot get Savings Credit because her qualifying income (£119.30) is lower than the Savings Credit starting point of £133.82 for a single person.

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