Understanding Pension Credit

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of two elements - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

Pension Credit and what you might get

Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples).

Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.

You may not be eligible for Savings Credit if you reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.

You don’t pay tax on Pension Credit.

Use the Pension Credit calculator to work out how much you might get.

What you'll get

Your circumstances Weekly Guarantee Credit  Weekly Savings Credit 
Single person Top up £167.25 Up to £13.73
Couple Top up £255.25 Up to £15.35

If responsible for a child or young person

You might get more Pension Credit if you are responsible for a child or young person. This is called the child addition.

The child or young person must normally live with you and be under the age of 20.

If they are 16 or over and under 20, they must be in (or accepted for):

  • approved training that is not provided through a contract of employment
  • a course of non-advanced education (for example, they’re studying for GCSEs or A levels)

If they are in education, it must be for more than 12 hours a week on average.

You cannot get the child addition if you get Tax Credits.

If you get Tax Credits, you could get support for the child or young person through Child Tax Credits.

Contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre if you are not sure whether you are eligible for the child addition.

Guarantee Credit

To qualify for Guarantee Credit:

  • you must live in Northern Ireland
  • you or your partner must have reached Pension Credit qualifying age

The qualifying age for Pension Credit is gradually going up to 66 in line with the increase in the State Pension age for women to 65 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 at the link below:

Changes to Pension Credit eligibility from 15 May 2019

From 15 May 2019,  if you're in a couple you will only be eligible to start getting pension credit if either:

  • you and your partner have both reached Pension Credit qualifying age
  • one of you has reached Pension Credit qualifying age and is claiming Housing Benefit (for you as a couple)

If you’re not already getting Pension Credit on 14 May 2019, you can backdate your claim. You could still be eligible to get Pension Credit.

You can ask for your claim to be backdated to 14 May or before. You’ll need to apply by 13 August 2019 to do this.

You can apply for Universal Credit instead if you’re still not eligible.

If you're in a couple and get Pension Credit 

You’ll continue to get Pension Credit after 15 May 2019. If your entitlement stops for any reason, for example your circumstances change, you cannot start getting it again until you (or your partner) are eligible under the new rules.

If you get Pension Credit and you’re single

From 15 May 2019, you’ll stop getting Pension Credit if you start living with a partner who is under Pension Credit qualifying age. You can start getting it again when your partner reaches Pension Credit qualifying age.

Savings Credit

To qualify for the extra Savings Credit you or your partner must be 65 or over.

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.

Reaching 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 below, to find out the date you can start claiming Pension Credit.

The maximum period for backdating your Pension Credit application 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

For information about how to apply including when to apply, downloading an application form, asking for a form and applying by telephone, go to the link below:

How it's paid

'Direct payment' into an account is the Department for Communities' 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:

SMS messages

When claiming Pension Credit you may receive text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC). They will always be clearly marked as DfC and will never ask you to give, or click a link to give, personal information or financial details by message or email.

If you’re concerned or unsure about any text messages (SMS) you receive from about Pension Credit you should contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre directly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent message as a scam, please contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre immediately.

  • Further information is available at: scamwiseni

If your circumstances change

Tell the Northern Ireland Pension Centre, Enquiry Line, if your circumstances change, so you continue to get the right amount of Pension Credit.

Changes to Assessed Income Periods (AIPs)

An AIP is a period when you don’t have to report changes to your pensions, savings or investments. Your Pension Credit award letter tells you if you have one. Read about the changes to AIPs from April 2016 below:

Pension Credit if you move abroad

You can't get Pension Credit if you move abroad permanently.

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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