Understanding Pension Credit
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of two elements - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.
You might get extra help if you’re a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person.
Pension Credit is separate from your State Pension.
You can also get Pension Credit even if you have other income, a pension, savings or own your own home. Even a small award of Pension Credit can provide access to a wide range of other benefits as shown in this short video
Other help if you get Pension Credit
If you get Pension Credit you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- a free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
- help with your heating costs
Pension Credit and what you might get
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to £177.10 (for single people) or £270.30 (for couples).
To qualify for Guarantee Credit:
- you must live in Northern Ireland
- you or your partner must have reached Pension Credit qualifying age
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a workplace pension.
You can only start getting Savings Credit if you (and your partner, if you have one) reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.
Your partner didn't reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016
If you’ve been getting Savings Credit since before 6 April 2016, you’ll continue to get it as long as there are no breaks in your entitlement.
If you stop being eligible for Savings Credit for any reason, you will not be able to get it again.
You’ll get up to £14.04 Savings Credit a week if you’re single. If you have a partner, you’ll get up to £15.71 a week.
You might still get some Savings Credit even if you do not get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.
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.
If you care for another adult
You could get an extra £37.70 a week if:
- you get Carer’s Allowance
- you’ve claimed Carer’s Allowance but are not being paid because you already get another benefit paying a higher amount
If you and your partner have both claimed or are getting Carer’s Allowance, you can both get this extra amount.
If you have a severe disability
You could get an extra £67.30 a week if you get any of the following:
- Attendance Allowance
- the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
If you are responsible for a child or young person
You could get an extra £54.60 a week for each child or young person you’re responsible for. This is increased to £65.10 a week for the first child if they were born before 6 April 2017. 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.
If the child or young person is disabled
If the child or young person is disabled, you could also get an extra amount of either:
- £29.66 a week if they get DLA or PIP
- £92.54 a week if they’re blind or they get the highest rate care component of DLA, or the enhanced daily living component of PIP
Contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre if you are not sure whether you are eligible for the child addition.
The qualifying age for Pension Credit is 66 in line with the increase in the State Pension age.
You're a couple and already get Pension Credit
You’ll continue to get Pension Credit if you were getting it before 15 May 2019 even if your partner is under State Pension age. If your entitlement stops for any reason, for example your circumstances change, you cannot start getting it again unless you (or your partner) are eligible under the new rules.
You're single and already get Pension Credit
You’ll stop getting Pension Credit if you start living with a partner who is under State Pension age. You can start getting it again when your partner reaches State Pension age.
When to apply
You can apply up to four months before you reach State Pension age.
You can apply any time after you reach State Pension age, but your application can only be backdated for three months. This means you can get up to 3 months of Pension Credit in your first payment if you were eligible during that time.
You will need the following information about you and your partner if you have one:
- National Insurance number
- information about your income, savings and investments
- your bank account details, if you’re applying by phone or by post
If you want to backdate your claim, you will need details of your and your partner's income, savings and investments on the date you want to backdate your application to (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached State Pension age).
How to apply
For information about how to apply online, 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:
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 DfC 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.
If you disagree with a decision
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.