Pensioners miss out on state benefits entitlement

Four in 10 pensioners who are eligible for state support are failing to claim any benefit and miss out £1,013 on average as a result, according to financial services provider Just Group. In a survey of 217 of their clients, the company also found that a further two in 10 are claiming but not receiving their full entitlement.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just, says: ‘At a time when many pensioners are struggling for income and inflation is rising, we have once again found far too many are missing out on state help.’ 

The research further reveals that in 2017 the average value of benefits underclaimed rose to £1,013, from £610 in 2016. 

Guarantee pension credit – which is an income-related benefit that can top up a pensioner’s weekly income if it’s below £159.35 (for single people) or £243.25 (for couples) – accounted for the biggest unclaimed sums. 

‘One in three of those eligible for guarantee pension credit failed to claim, with an average loss of £3,431. All of those not claiming this benefit were missing at least £1,000 a year and in one case the loss was £8,060 a year. 

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Lowe adds: ‘Council tax reduction is another area of concern where fewer than half of those eligible are claiming, and the average amount being lost is £491 a year.’

In the UK, about 88 per cent of pensioner couples and 63 per cent of single pensioners own their own homes, according to the Office for National Statistics. Lowe argues that as a consequence it is ‘possible that homeowners in particular may think limited support is available, although owning a property does not necessarily mean you have adequate income in retirement.’

Claire Trott, head of pensions strategy at Technical Connection, part of St James’s Place, comments: ‘This research shows again how complex retirement is, when life should be getting simpler. State benefits that have been earned over many years working life should be easy and simple to access for those who need them, and help should be available to navigate the system. 

‘The levels of missed benefits quoted would make a significant difference to those in need and it is those in need who generally haven’t had the advice they need to know what they are missing out on. Providing easy and trusted guidance can only be a good thing for those who need it.’

Lowe concludes that the figures on missed benefits ‘strengthen the case for making free guidance the default option for all those heading into retirement – unless they specifically opt out – and that guidance should include information about entitlements to state help.’

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