Pension credits were introduced in 2003 as a means-tested social benefit. The credits were brought in to help those who are over pension age survive in their retirement.
People over the required age, currently 65, can now claim pension credits to help supplement their low incomes.
Pension credits work in two ways. The first is the guaranteed credit, which guarantees individuals £132.60 a week, and couples £202.40. The individual who claims must be over the pension age, but their spouse or partner can be younger in the case of couples.
The qualifying age has risen from 60 to 65 in the last year, and will continue to rise in line with state pension age increases in the next few years as people are deemed to be fit to work for longer.
The other element of pension credits are the savings credits, which are a reward for people with some savings towards their retirement above the state pension. Whilst the payments vary from person to person, the credit is worth an extra £20.52 a week for a single person, and up to £27.09 for couples.
All pensions credits are means-tested so won’t be applicable to people with an income over a certain amount, which was set at £6,000 last year and will increase each year in line with inflation and the consumer price index.
You do not need to have made national insurance contributions to claim pension credits, unlike the state pension, and you must call the government’s Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 for more information on making a claim for pension credits.
Claims can be backdated for three months.