Changes to Pension Credit entitlement for mixed-age couples

Pension Credit rules are changing on 15 May 2019, which will affect couples who make a new claim where only one partner is over pension age. The impact is significant. We asked our Oddfellows Citizens Advice Line colleagues for their advice.

Advice issued by Citizens Advice

Pension Credit is money that can be paid to people of state pension age (and their partners if they have them), if the household’s income is below a certain threshold and there isn’t a large amount of savings or investments.

Pension Credit payments are a little more generous than benefits for working age people and are well worth looking into. This information deals with changes to the claiming rules for couples.

For most couples there is a period where they are considered a mixed-age couple, meaning that one partner is working age and the other has reached State Pension age.

Until now the older person, once they had reached state pension age, was able to make a claim for Pension Credit on behalf of both partners. The claim would include money for the younger partner, too, paid at the more generous Pension Credit rate. For couples in receipt of Pension Credit there is no requirement to try to find paid work.

Mixed-age couples on low income should seek advice quickly so they don’t miss out on money they are entitled to.

From 15 May 2019, the government is changing the rules for couples who are making a new claim for benefits. Please note that there will be no change to payments for couples who are already getting Pension Credit (or pension age Housing Benefit).

However, where a mixed-age couple wants to claim benefits after 15 May 2019, it is the younger partner who needs to make the claim. Where the age difference means that the younger partner is still of working age, they have to apply for working age benefits and in many cases that will be Universal Credit. This change means that money for both partners, including the older pension age person, will be paid at the less generous working age benefit rate. The younger partner may also be required to try to find employment, although this condition should be tailored to their individual circumstances.

Only once the younger partner reaches pension age can the couple receive Pension Credit instead and neither partner needs to look for paid work.

Small window of opportunity to backdate a claim

As Pension Credit can in certain cases include money for a period of up to three months before the claim was made (called backdating) some mixed-age couples may still be able to make a successful claim for a short period after the 15 May 2019 deadline up to 14 August 2019.

Mixed-age couples on low income should seek advice quickly so they don’t miss out on money they are entitled to.

Getting advice

Oddfellows members are urged to contact the Oddfellows Citizens Advice Line, which provides dedicated access to a team of expert Citizens Advice advisors. Use of the advice line is a membership benefit from day one.

If appropriate, claims for Pension Credit can be made by calling the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234.