If you’re on a low income after retirement, there are benefits available that can help you maintain a comfortable standard of living. One of the main ones is pension credit. You may qualify for this benefit automatically if your income is below a certain level once you’ve reached state pension age. Around 1.5 million pensioners throughout the UK receive pension credit – but around 2 in 5 eligible pensioners don’t claim what they’re entitled to. Even if you reached state pension age a few years ago, it’s not too late to start claiming. We explain what pension credit is, how much you could get and how to apply.
What is pension credit?
Pension credit is a means-tested weekly benefit for people who are over state pension age and on low incomes. Eligibility is based on how much money you have coming in. If you are eligible, it can offer a much-needed top-up to your weekly pension income. But importantly, you don’t receive it automatically. If you want to receive it, you must put in an application.
How does pension credit work?
Pension credit is split into two parts: guarantee credit and savings credit. Some people receive both, but others only qualify for one of the two. In both cases, you’ll only qualify if your income isn’t too high.
What is guarantee credit?
This is the main type of pension credit. It tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum amount.
What is savings credit?
This is usually only available to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016. It rewards those who have been proactive about saving for retirement, and have a modest income via a savings account or pension, by paying an additional benefit.
How much is pension credit worth?
According to government statistics, the average pension credit payment is more than £59 a week – that’s more than £3,000 a year. How much each person will receive depends on their specific level of income and whether they qualify for one or both types of pension credit.
Let’s start with guarantee credit. As of the 2021/22 tax year, this tops up your weekly income to:
- £177.10 if you’re single
- £270.30 if you’re in a couple that lives together (based on your joint weekly income)
If you earn less than these amounts, you’ll receive enough benefit to lift your income to these levels.
Example: If you’re single and your weekly income from other sources is £125, you’ll be eligible for a guarantee credit top-up of £52.10.
If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016 and have saved some money for retirement, you may also qualify for the savings credit part of pension credit. If you qualify, this entitles you to a maximum weekly payment of:
- £14.04 if you’re single
- £15.71 if you’re in a couple that lives together
The eligibility criteria to receive savings credit are a bit complicated, as we’ll explain below.
Who is entitled to pension credit?
The criteria for entitlement to guarantee credit are fairly straightforward. You must:
- Have reached state pension age (to qualify as a couple, you must both have reached state pension age, or one of you must be getting housing benefit for people over state pension age. As of May 2019, new applicants can’t usually claim pension credit if only one of you has reached state pension age)
- Earn less than the income thresholds stated above, based on income from the state pension, other pensions, employment, savings above a certain level and some other benefits
- Live in the UK
The criteria to qualify for savings credit are a little more complicated.
Admittedly the first part is straightforward. It’s only available to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016. This can include couples where one member of the couple reached state pension age before this date. And, as with guarantee credit, you must living in the UK.
In addition to these basic criteria, you must have made some provisions for your retirement, such as a pension (other than the state pension) or savings.
A bit counterintuitively, given these are benefits aimed at those on low incomes, there are also minimum thresholds on how much income you must earn to qualify for savings credit. As of the 2021/22 tax year, these minimum thresholds are £153.70 a week for single people and £244.12 for couples.
Exactly how much of the maximum benefit (£14.04 a week for single people and £15.71 for couples) you might qualify for depends on how much you earn above these minimum thresholds. The maths can be a bit complicated so, if you’re not already receiving pensions credit but think you might be entitled to savings credit, your best bet is simply to try applying and find out how much you might be owed. Remember that you’ll only be eligible if you (or in some cases your partner) reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.
How do I know exactly what pension credit I qualify for?
If you want to get a sense of how much pension credit you might qualify for before you apply, you can use the government’s pension credit calculator to check if you’re eligible and an estimate of how much you might get.
How do I apply for pension credit?
It just takes 2 steps:
- Check your state pension age using the government’s state pension calculator. You can apply up to 4 months before your state pension age, or at any point thereafter.
- If you’ve already reached state pension age and there are no children or young people included in your application, you can apply online on the gov.uk website. Otherwise you can apply by post, or a phone call will do the trick. Call 0800 99 1234. Make sure you have the following details handy for yourself and your partner (if applicable).
- National Insurance number
- Information about your income, pensions, investments and savings. If you’re backdating your payments (for up to 3 months), you’ll need information for the period of backdating too
- If you’re applying by phone or post you’ll also need your bank account details
How is pension credit paid?
Payments of pension credit usually go directly into your bank or building society account. Payments can be made weekly, fortnightly or four-weekly.
If you are unable to act for yourself, the payments can instead be made to someone you have given power of attorney or another official appointee.
Can I ever get more than the basic amount of pension credit?
Yes, there are a few circumstances in which you might qualify for some additional allowances on top of guarantee credit. These amounts are all correct as of the 2021/22 tax year:
- If you have a severe disability and receive certain disability benefits (such as attendance allowance, or the armed forces independence payment) you could get an extra £67.30 a week.
- If you care for another adult and are entitled to carer’s allowance, you could get an extra £37.70 a week.
- If you’re responsible for children or young people that normally live with you, you may be able to get an additional £54.60 a week for every child or young person you look after. This is increased to £65.10 a week for the first child if they were born before 6 April 2017.
- If you have housing costs, you may be able to get an amount to help you with things such as ground rent or services charges.
I’m state pension age, but my partner isn’t. Can we claim pension credit?
Typically, no. As of 15 May 2019, couples can only claim pension credit when both partners have reached state pension age. There may be an exception if one member of the couple is receiving housing benefit for people over state pension age.
If you don’t meet the pension credit eligibility criteria as a couple, you may be able to claim universal credit instead. However, this is likely to be worth less.
If you are a couple where one partner is below state pension age, but were already receiving pension credit before May 2019, this will be unaffected as long as other circumstances don’t change.
Does the money I have in savings affect my eligibility for pension credit?
It depends on the level of savings. If you have £10,000 or less in savings and investments, your pension credit will be unaffected.
If you have more than £10,000, every £500 over £10,000 will be treated as the equivalent of £1 income a week. For example, if you have £12,000 in savings, this will count as £4 income a week.
Do I qualify for any other benefits if I get pension credit?
Finder expert Zoe Stabler answers
Yes. Even only being eligible for a small amount of pension credit will qualify you to receive a host of other benefits, which are well worth having in their own right, potentially adding up to thousands of pounds of value a year. These include:
- A reduction in council tax
- A free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- A warm home discount – an annual credit on your energy bill, usually given by the end of March each year
- Cold weather payments, which are paid during 7-day spells of particularly cold weather (below zero degrees Celsius) in the winter
- Grants to improve the heating and insulation in your home
- The maximum amount of housing benefit entitlement if you rent your home
- Support for mortgage interest if you own your home
- Help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
Your automatic entitlement to these extra benefits makes it well worth applying for pension credit even if you’ll only receive a very small amount.
What happens if my circumstances change?
If your (or your partner’s) personal or financial circumstances change in a way that could affect your pension credit entitlement, you must tell the Pension Service by calling 0800 731 0469 or letting them know by post (the address is on the letters you get about pension credit).
Changes to financial circumstances include:
- Changes to housing costs, for example ground rent or service charges
- Changes to benefits that anyone living in your home gets; this can include getting a new benefit or a benefit being stopped
- Changes to occupational or personal pensions – for example, starting to get a new pension or taking a lump sum out of your pension pot
- Other income changes; for example, foreign pensions, Working Tax Credits, or savings or investment income
- Changes to the value of your savings and investments; if they fall below or rise above a certain level, this can affect your pension credit entitlement
Changes to personal circumstances include:
- Starting or stopping work
- Moving house
- Going into a hospital or care home
- Starting or stopping living with a partner
- Other people moving in or out of your house
- Changing your name
- Changes to your bank account details
- Going abroad; for example, on holiday (due to the rules on how long you can be away overseas and still receive pension credit)
- Changes to your immigration status if you’re not a British citizen
Can I claim pension credit if I move abroad?
It depends how long you move abroad for. If you move abroad permanently, you cannot get pension credit. If your move is only temporary, you can continue to receive payments for the following periods:
- For 4 weeks, provided the absence is not expected to exceed this (i.e. you intend to return within this period at the point of departure)
- For 8 weeks, provided the absence is not expected to exceed this and is in connection with the death of your partner or another close relative that you usually live with
- For 26 weeks, provided the absence is not expected to exceed this and is purely in connection with medical treatment for you, your partner or your child
If you’re eligible, it’s well worth applying for pension credit. Not only could it give a welcome boost to your retirement income, but receiving it automatically qualifies you for a heap of other valuable benefits too. So if you’ve reached state pension age and are struggling to make ends meet, don’t hesitate to apply.
Frequently asked questions
You can receive pension credit once you reach state pension age. You can start your application up to 4 months before you reach state pension age, or at any time thereafter.
You can claim pension credit on behalf of yourself and, if they’re eligible, a spouse or a partner that you live with. It’s also possible for a nominated appointee to claim pension credit on behalf of someone that is unable to manage their own affairs because of severe disability or mental incapacity.
Yes, but only for up to 3 months, or from the point you reached state pension age if this was less than 3 months ago.
In most cases, yes, your pension credit entitlement will be calculated as if you were still living at home. However, if you are in a couple and one member moves permanently into a care home, from that point you will be treated as individuals for the purposes of pension credit.
It depends on your specific circumstances. If you receive the guarantee part of pension credit, you may get your council tax paid in full. If you live with any adults that are not dependent on you, the discount may be smaller. And if you only receive the savings credit part pension credit, you may be eligible for some discount, but typically not as much as with guarantee credit.
You can choose to receive pension credit payments weekly, fortnightly or four-weekly.
Yes. Regardless of your current or former employment status, and even if you have made no national insurance contributions, you can claim pension credit as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.
You are regarded as a couple if you are in a relationship and live together. You don’t necessarily have to be married or in a civil partnership. If you are in a couple, you must include your partner in your pension credit application.
This article offers information about investing and the stock market, but is not personal investing advice. The value of investments can fall as well as rise, and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please get professional advice, for example from afinancial adviser.
You'll get up to £15.94 Savings Credit a week if you're single. If you have a partner, you'll get up to £17.84 a week. You might still get some Savings Credit even if you do not get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.How do I find out if I have enough credits to retire? ›
- Go to the Social Security website.
- Create an account or sign in if you already have an account.
- Once you're logged in, your credit earnings are listed under "Eligibility and Earnings."
We base Social Security credits on the amount of your earnings. We use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for retirement or disability benefits or your family's eligibility for survivors benefits when you die. We cannot pay benefits if you don't have enough credits.How much is one credit for retirement? ›
Earn 40 credits to become fully insured
You can earn up to four credits each year and each credit represents a certain amount of earnings. In 2023, the amount needed to earn one credit is $1,640. You can work all year to earn four credits ($6,560), or you can earn enough for all four in a much shorter length of time.
Pension payments, annuities, and the interest or dividends from your savings and investments are not earnings for Social Security purposes. You may need to pay income tax, but you do not pay Social Security taxes.Does pension count as income? ›
The taxable part of your pension or annuity payments is generally subject to federal income tax withholding. You may be able to choose not to have income tax withheld from your pension or annuity payments or may want to specify how much tax is withheld.How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›
To acquire the full amount, you need to maximize your working life and begin collecting your check until age 70. Another way to maximize your check is by asking for a raise every two or three years. Moving companies throughout your career is another way to prove your worth, and generate more money.How do I find out how many work credits I have for disability? ›
The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps a database of your earnings record and work credits, tracking both through your Social Security number. You can see this information on your Social Security Statement, which is available to everyone age 25 and over.How many years is 40 credits for Social Security? ›
To retire and receive Social Security benefits, you need at least 40 credits. You are only allowed to earn four credits max per year, so the 40 credits represents 10 years.What is the lowest Social Security payment? ›
The Social Security special minimum benefit provides a primary insurance amount (PIA) to low-earning workers. The lowest minimum PIA in 2023, with at least 11 years of work, is $49.40 per month. The full minimum PIA, which requires at least 30 years of work, is $1,033.50 per month.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To if I Don't Earn 40 Credits? If you don't earn 40 quarters of coverage, you, unfortunately, won't qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Even if you fall just one quarter short, the SSA will not pay you retirement benefits.How much do you need to earn to get 4 Social Security credits? ›
The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit may change each year. In 2023, you earn 1 Social Security and Medicare credit for every $1,640 in covered earnings each year. You must earn $6,560 to get the maximum 4 credits for the year.What is a pension credit in us? ›
Pension Credit is earned based on your Earnings Credit or your days of covered employment. Pension Credits are used in determining your eligibility for benefits as well as the amount of benefits payable under the Plan. There are four types of Pension Credits: Current Service Credit.How much is a $30000 pension worth? ›
As an example, examine how much an earned pension income of $30,000 would add to a person's net worth. A defined benefit plan income of $30,000 annually is $2,500 per month, which is 25 times $100.What is the 5 year rule for Social Security? ›
You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the last 10 years. If you also get a pension from a job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher's pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.Does my savings account affect my Social Security benefits? ›
Social Security does not count pension payments, annuities, or the interest or dividends from your savings and investments as earnings. They do not lower your Social Security retirement benefits.What is the average pension payout per month? ›
Average Monthly Retirement Income
According to data from the BLS, average incomes in 2021 after taxes were as follows for older households: 65-74 years: $59,872 per year or $4,989 per month.
What is the Social Security payment for a salary over 25,000 dollars? For people who are earning 25,000 dollars across the year rather than the previously mentioned amount, 1,880 dollars of the benefits would have to be withheld, so the monthly benefit amount is 1,886 dollars.Do you have to pay income tax after age 70? ›
In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year. However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable.Can you collect pension and still work? ›
In most cases, the answer is yes, you may still work while receiving a pension—but with a few limitations. Since pensions are considered part of your compensation package, they generally may not be taken away for any reason.
If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount. If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2023, that limit is $21,240.How do I get the $16000 Social Security bonus? ›
- Option 1: Increase Your Earnings. Social Security benefits are based on your earnings. ...
- Option 2: Wait Until Age 70 to Claim Social Security Benefits. ...
- Option 3: Be Strategic With Spousal Benefits. ...
- Option 4: Make the Most of COLA Increases.
To receive SSI, one must meet two eligibility requirements. One must either be over the age of sixty-five, blind and/or disabled. Additionally, they must have a limited income and resources as the program is need-based and aims to assist beneficiaries to cover basic costs for food and shelter.How do you get $100 added to your Social Security check? ›
For example, if you're eligible for a $500 spouses, widows, or widowers benefit from Social Security, you'll get $100 a month from Social Security ($500 – $400 = $100). If two-thirds of your government pension is more than your Social Security benefit, your benefit could be reduced to zero.How much will SSI checks be in 2023? ›
SSI benefits increased in 2023 because there was an increase in the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of 2021 to the third quarter of 2022. Effective January 1, 2023 the Federal benefit rate is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple.Can you collect disability and Social Security at the same time? ›
Can I receive Disability Insurance and Social Security Disability at the same time? Yes, however, Social Security may reduce the amount you receive for Disability Insurance benefits.What disqualifies you from Social Security? ›
Some American workers do not qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Workers who don't accrue the requisite 40 credits (roughly ten years of employment) are not eligible for Social Security. Some government and railroad employees are not eligible for Social Security.How do I find out if I have 40 credits for Social Security? ›
Most people You can also visit www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement need 40 credits, earned over their working lifetime, to to see whether your Social Security benefit amount receive retirement benefits.Do stay at home moms get Social Security? ›
Just because you don't bring home a paycheck doesn't mean you're not working. A stay-at-home parent can get a Social Security check just like any other worker.What is the highest Social Security check you can get a month? ›
The maximum Social Security benefit in 2023 is $3,627 at full retirement age. It's $4,555 per month if retiring at age 70 and $2,572 if retiring at age 62.
Your Social Security Statement (Statement) is available to view online by opening a my Social Security account. It is useful for people of all ages who want to learn about their future Social Security benefits and current earnings history.What is the average Social Security check? ›
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average monthly retirement benefit for Security Security recipients is $1,781.63 as of February.How much is Medicare if you don't have enough credits? ›
You can still get Medicare Part A coverage, even if you don't fully meet the work requirement of 40 credits. Here's what you'll pay in 2022: If you have 30 to 39 credits, your Part A premium will cost $274 per month. If you have fewer than 30 credits, your Part A premium will cost $499 per month.Will I get Social Security if I only worked 10 years? ›
If you've worked and paid Social Security taxes for 10 years or more, you'll get a monthly benefit based on that work.Can you get Medicare if you never worked? ›
Medicare Eligibility for People Who've Never Worked? Regardless of your work history, you are eligible for Medicare at age 65 (or younger in some cases) if you're a U.S. citizen.What is one way to earn more money through Social Security? ›
Working for 35 years or more will help ensure you get the most money when your benefit amount is calculated. Earn as much as you can right up until full retirement age (or past it) to max out your benefit. If you wait until age 70 to claim, you can increase your benefit by 8% a year beyond your full retirement age.How long can you collect Social Security? ›
Your benefits last as long as you live. Taking benefits before your full retirement age (as early as age 62) lowers the amount you get each month. Delaying benefits past full retirement age (up to age 70) increases the monthly amount for the rest of your life.What is considered to be a disability? ›
A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).Is US pension credit means tested? ›
What is Pension Credit? Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people on a low income who have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age. Pension Credit has two parts – Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit. You may be able to get one or both parts depending on your circumstances.What is the retirement credit? ›
The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, also known as the Savers Credit, gives a special tax break to low- and moderate-income taxpayers who are saving for retirement. This credit is in addition to the other tax benefits for saving in a retirement account.
- Go to the Social Security website.
- Create an account or sign in if you already have an account.
- Once you're logged in, your credit earnings are listed under "Eligibility and Earnings."
The 50 – 70 rule is a quick estimate of how much you could spend during your retirement. It suggests that you should aim for an annual income that is between 50% and 70% of your working income.Is $3 000 a month a good pension? ›
If you have a low living cost and can supplement your income with a part-time job or a generous pension, then retiring on $3,000 a month is certainly possible. However, if you have a high living cost or rely solely on Social Security benefits, retiring on $3,000 a month may be more difficult.Is $500,000 enough to retire with a pension? ›
Yes, retiring at 55 with $500,000 is feasible. An annuity can offer a lifetime guaranteed income of $24,688 per year or an initial $21,000 that increases over time to offset inflation. At 62, Social Security Benefits augment this income. Both options continue payouts even if the annuity depletes.What changes are coming for Social Security in 2023? ›
Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% raise for 2023, compared with the 5.9% increase that beneficiaries received in 2022. Maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax also went up, from $147,000 to $160,200.What happens if you don t have enough credits for Social Security? ›
We base Social Security credits on the amount of your earnings. We use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for retirement or disability benefits or your family's eligibility for survivors benefits when you die. We cannot pay benefits if you don't have enough credits.At what age do you get 100 of your Social Security benefits? ›
If you start receiving benefits at age 66 you get 100 percent of your monthly benefit. If you delay receiving retirement benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase.Can my boyfriend stay over if I claim benefits? ›
Having someone stay over at your house should not affect your benefits. There are no set rules about how often or how long someone can stay.What types of pensions affect Social Security benefits? ›
The Government Pension Offset, or GPO, affects spouses, widows, and widowers with pensions from a federal, state, or local government job. It reduces their Social Security benefits in some cases.What income counts towards Social Security earnings limit? ›
We only count your earnings up to the month before you reach your full retirement age, not your earnings for the entire year. If your earnings will be more than the limit for the year and you will receive retirement benefits for part of the year, we have a special rule that applies to earnings for one year.
There is no savings limit for PIP - you can have as much money in the bank as you like. There is also no limit on your income - you can still claim PIP if you have a regular income. PIP is assessed on your ability to complete everyday tasks and look after yourself properly if you have a physical or mental condition.What counts as someone living with you? ›
Although there is no legal definition of living together, it generally means to live together as a couple without being married. Couples who live together are sometimes called common-law partners. This is just another way of saying a couple are living together.Can I get cash aid if I live with my boyfriend? ›
Can my partner with me if I receive public assistance? Your local Department of Social Services (DSS) cannot restrict who lives with you. However, who you live with may affect the amount of benefits that you receive.Can I claim my non working boyfriend as a dependent? ›
To qualify as a dependent, your partner must have lived with you for the entire calendar year and listed your home as their official residence for the full year. If your partner has gross income above a certain amount ($4,400 for tax year 2022), you can't claim that person as a dependent.What pension reduces Social Security payments? ›
Retirement and Disability benefit reduction
If your pension is from a government job or a job worked in a foreign country, and you have not paid Social Security taxes for at least 30 years of Substantial Earnings, your benefit may be reduced. We refer to this reduction as the Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP.
Earn as Much as You Can
If you don't yet have 35 years of earnings, or if you didn't earn much in some of those years, the trick to get a “bonus” in your Social Security check is to fill up that grid with as many high-earning years as you can before you retire.
Money In The Bank And SSDI
The SSDI program does not limit how much money you can have in the bank because there are no resource limits as you find with SSI.
Under PIP, if a condition or disability affects you more than half the time, it has to be treated as affecting you all the time. Equally, if a condition or disability does not affect you half the time, then it can be disregarded or ignored for PIP purposes. This is known as the 50% rule.What conditions automatically qualify you for PIP? ›
you're 16 or over. you have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability. you have difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around. you expect the difficulties to last for at least 12 months from when they started.