Thousands of pensioners are missing out on over £1,000 a year in state support by failing to claim the benefits they may be entitled to, according to a new report.
Research by Just Group found that seven in ten pensioner homeowners are failing to claim full benefit entitlements, with an average loss of £1,058 per home owner.
Pensioner homeowners on low-income are entitled to claim a range of state benefits, including pension credit and council tax reductions, but many are either not aware of their entitlement or are choosing not to claim.
But according to Just Group’s ninth annual ‘State Benefits Survey’, 49 per cent of pensioner homeowners entitled to state support are not claiming any form of benefit, while 20 per cent are claiming too little, missing out on an average £855 a year.
Just Group tracked three key benefits available to older people:
- Guarantee Pension Credit showed the biggest unclaimed average amount at £1,889 a year.
- Savings Pension Credit is the least likely benefit to be claimed with take-up rate of less than one in three of those eligible and an average loss of £434 a year.
- 32% were eligible to receive Council Tax Reduction but fewer than four in 10 of those were claiming, missing out on an average £745 a year.
“Once again we have found that too many people are missing out on claiming their full benefits with the average annual loss of £1,058 a year, the highest for five years,” said Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group.
“These are meaningful sums of money that would make a real difference to people’s lives, especially for those struggling to pay everyday living costs.”
The research has led to calls for more information and advice to be made available for older people.
“The first priority of the professional adviser when meeting clients is to check their entitlement to State benefits,” said Stephen Lowe.
“Of those eligible for State support, we found around seven in 10 households were missing out, made up of 49% failing to claim anything and 20% claiming only their partial entitlement.
“The highest amount unclaimed was £5,702 a year by a couple in Cheshire aged 57 and 58 who were claiming part of their benefit entitlement but under claiming an additional £110 a week.
“Among those completely missing out on benefits, a household in Norfolk, aged 83 and 57, were eligible to claim £5,506 a year. A 93-year-old from Hertfordshire who was not claiming, was entitled to receive £5,434 a year.
“Overall, nearly one-third of those missing out were eligible to receive benefits worth £1,000 a year or more.
“Of course we don’t know how long people have been missing out on benefits so in some cases the overall loss is likely to be in the tens of thousands of pounds.”
He continued: “Our research with advised clients is backed up by official government figures which show vast amounts of State benefits go unclaimed.
“For the two elements of Pension Credit, it is estimated about 1.3 million families are failing to claim up to £3.5 billion a year.”
He added that the take-up rates in the Just Group research amongst advised clients are below official government estimates for the whole population, suggesting that homeowners are more likely to be missing out than tenants or non-homeowners.
“It raises questions about whether homeowners are less likely to think they are eligible and therefore less likely to claim, or whether the guidance and information is not making the right impact to help people claim,” he said.
“The benefits system is not easy to navigate, perhaps highlighted by the fact that even significant numbers who are claiming are not getting their full entitlement.
“It certainly reinforces the argument that State Benefits information should be included as part of the government backed free, independent and impartial financial guidance now being offered by Pension Wise to those aged 50+ who are considering accessing pension money.”