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Urgent warning for 770,000 to act now or miss out on £324 in free cash to help with the cost of living

THOUSANDS of households have just a day left to act to ensure that they don’t miss out on £324 in free cash support this winter.

Millions of households have already received the £324 cost of living payment to help with bills this winter – but many could still qualify.

Hundreds of thousands of state pensioners should act now to ensure that they don’t miss out on the £324 cost of living payment

But over 770,000 state pensioners face missing out on the payment if they don’t launch claims for pension credit by tomorrow evening, according to Age UK.

To qualify for the £324 payment, you will need to have been in receipt of any one of the eligible benefits, including pension credit, for any day in the period from August 26 to September 25, 2022.

However, it doesn’t matter if pensioners have only just discovered that they might be eligible for pension credit.

This is because pension credit claims can be backdated by three months and this means that if you make a claim for the benefit now you could still qualify for the cost of living cash too.

And the Department for Work and Pensions has said that the last date for applying in order to qualify for the £324 payment is tomorrow (Sunday, December 18).

Pension credit is designed to boost your income if you’re over the state pension age and on a low income.

Those who are eligible could be entitled to more than £3,300 a year.

We’ve explained how you can apply for pension credit below.

Who is eligible for pension credit?

It is available for people who are over the state pension age, and who live in England, Scotland or Wales.

This is currently rising to 66 for both men and women.

It used to be the case that couples, where one person was over state pension age, could claim, but new rules now mean that both people in a couple must be over retirement age to apply.

This means if you’re single and move in with a partner who is younger than the state pension age, you will stop being eligible.

But if you’re already receiving pension credit under the old system it won’t stop unless your circumstances change.

To qualify, you’ll need to have a weekly income of less than £182.60 for single people or £278.70 for couples.

Your income is worked out taking into account various elements including:

  • Your state pension
  • Any other pensions you have saved, for instance, workplace or private pension savings
  • Most social security benefits, for example, carer’s allowance
  • Any savings or investments worth over £10,000
  • Earnings from a job

The calculation does not include:

  • Attendance allowance
  • Christmas bonus
  • Disability living allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction

If your income is too high to get pension credit, you may still get some savings pension credit, so it’s worth checking.

How much can you get in pension credit?

There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:

  • Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £182.60 a week if you’re single and £278.70 a week for married couples.
  • Savings credit – provides extra money if you’ve saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £14.48 a week for a single person or £16.20 a week for a married couple.

You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

For instance, you can get either £56.35 a week or £66.85 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.

If you are disabled or care for someone who is disabled, you may get more.

For example, if you have a severe disability you could get an extra £69.40 a week or if you care for another adult you could get an extra £38.85 a week.

How do I apply?

You can start your application up to 4 months before you reach state pension age.

Applications for pension credit can be made on the government website or by ringing the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

You can get a friend or family member to ring for you, but you’ll need to be with them when they do.

You’ll need the following information about you and your partner if you have one:

  • National Insurance number
  • Information about any income, savings and investments you have
  • Information about your income, savings and investments on the date you want to backdate your application to (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached State Pension age)

If you claim after you reach pension age, you can backdate your claim for up to three months.

How will I be paid?

Your benefits are usually paid into an account, for instance, a bank account.

They’re usually paid every four weeks.

You’ll be asked for your bank, building society or credit union account details when you claim.

But if you have problems opening or managing an account, you might be able to claim a different way.

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