A FINANCIAL expert has warned low income families could be missing out on hundreds of pounds a year in extra benefits.

Helen Morrissey, a senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, has warned that Pension Credit is “hugely underclaimed” and up to 850,000 families could receive it but are not doing so.

Pension Credit aims to boost the weekly income of the poorest pensioners up to £182.60 for a single person and £278.70 for couples.

The help from pension credit could be worth as much as £3,300 a year for the most hard-up households.

Anyone who is a carer or disabled can qualify for higher payments.

The benefit is designed to help retirees on a low income by giving them extra money to help with living costs.

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According to the government's own figures, around £1.7billion in Pension Credit has gone unclaimed with each entitled family potentially missing out on £1,900 by not claiming.

Not only is it advisable to claim Pension Credit for the extra money but it also acts a gateway to get other help, including NHS costs such as glasses.

Those over the age of 75 can also qualify for a free TV license.

Plus, if you get pension credit, you can also get help with other costs such as your rent (in the form of housing benefit), council tax and heating.

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It comes as the cost of heating homes soars, with bills going up by an average of £700 from April 1 when the energy price cap increased.

The exact amount more you'll pay will depend on your usage, but the extra support from pension credit could help you cover the extra cost.

As part of a series of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £650 payment to households in receipt of benefits, including Pension Credit.

This money is due to be paid in two instalments.

For the first one you already have to be in receipt of Pension Credit or have an application going through on May 25.

However, anyone who applies now, and is eligible, you could be in line for a second payment.

In order to boost the take up of the benefit a Pension Credit Day of Action has been launched.

Ms Morrissey said: “Pension Credit boosts the income of the poorest pensioners and yet it remains woefully underclaimed.

“Today’s government-backed day of action aims to raise awareness of Pension Credit which is vital in making sure more pensioners get the support they need, particularly during the current cost of living crisis.

“This is often because people don’t know what Pension Credit is and there are also several myths that need to be addressed as they stand in the way of people getting what they are entitled to.”

Myths surrounding Pension Credit including people thinking they cannot claim if they own their home, but this is not the case.

Similarly, you can also claim this benefit if you have savings.

Having £10,000 or less in savings and investments will not affect your entitlement to Pension Credit.

How to claim Pension Credit

  • You can use the government's Pension Credit calculator Pension Credit calculator –  to see if you are eligible for Pension Credit and assess how much you might get.
  • You will need to have details of your income to hand. This includes any earnings, benefits or pensions – both state and personal/workplace. If you have a partner, then you will also need their details.
  • Alternatively, you can call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.
  • You can start your application for Pension Credit up to four months before you hit State Pension Age. You can also claim after State Pension Age, but any income will only be backdated by three months.
  • You will need your national insurance number as well as any details about income, savings and investments you have. You will also need your bank account details.
  • You can also apply online or by post Pension Credit: How to claim

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A whopping third of pensioners who could get pension credit don’t apply and miss out on this weekly top-up.

If you’ve applied for pension credit in the past but were unsuccessful or if you used to get it but don’t any more, it might be worth your while checking your entitlement again.

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