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'.

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:

  • £159.35 if you are single
  • £243.25 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 age 65 for both men and women. This is in line with the increase in female State Pension Age between 6 April 2010 and 2018.

It will then increase further to age 66 by October 2020, in line with the increase in State Pension age for both 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:

  • £13.20 a week if you are single
  • £14.90 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.

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. 

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.

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