Pensioner, 76, had ‘£3 a week’ before securing support worth £7,000 – could you?

Pension Credit: Yvonne on living on the breadline

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Many pensioners are sadly living in poverty, and may be struggling to make ends meet. However, there could be support available for millions of people, who are currently missing out on help worth thousands.

This was the case for Yvonne, a 76-year-old woman, who shared her story on ITV’s Tonight, Pensions: How to Save More? last night.

She told ITV: “When I was younger, I never thought about a pension, so it wasn’t until I got nearer to pension age and then my husband passed away.

“Then I got this letter through saying my pension was £3 a week!”

As Yvonne’s husband had died, she found she was entitled to claim his state pension.

However, it meant she had a total of just £174 per week to live off for retirement.

Understandably, the widow faced challenges which impacted her quality of life, and the things she wanted to do in retirement.

She explained: “I was scraping by. I didn’t have the money to just go out and have a coffee and a chat with friends. I really missed that.”

Yvonne then discovered she could be entitled to Pension Credit – a vital benefit for older people.

It is a top-up payment, offering extra money to help with living costs for low income pensioners.

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For the widow, claiming the sum made a world of change to her day-to-day life.

She said: “It was such a difference, it really lifted my mood. I was so depressed just being stuck and not having the money to do the simple things in life.

“I mean, that is what life is about – human contact. Without it, you just shrivel up.”

Pension Credit currently tops up the weekly income of singletons to £182.60.

Those who have a partner will see their joint weekly income rise to £278.70.

However, this financial support is not all individuals claiming Pension Credit will be entitled to.

Eligible pensioners could get help with their housing costs, such as rent or service charges.

They could also claim a council tax discount, particularly valuable at helping keep costs down.

Yvonne also highlighted that as someone over 75 on Pension Credit she is also entitled to a free TV licence. 

Presenter Michelle Ackerley explained the total level of support from Pension Credit and the gateway help it provides could give eligible Britons £7,000 worth of support.

Morgan Vine, Head of Policy at Independent Age, also discussed the value of Pension Credit.

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She said: “We did some work with Loughborough University – it’s approximately £2billion not received. We worked out what would happen if you gave that money to everyone that was eligible. 

“What the statistics showed us is that the state would make back about £4billion, so you double your money.

“That’s because because when people don’t receive Pension Credit, but they need it, they are making really tough choices that are impacting their health. So often they end up in hospital.”

The DWP has said it recognises that the cost of living can create some challenges for pensioners.

Due to this, it has sought to increase awareness of the benefit and who may be entitled.

Former pensions minister Guy Opperman said: “We’re calling on everyone with retired family, friends and loved ones to check in with them and see if they can get this extra financial support, which could make a huge difference to people’s everyday lives.”

ITV’s Tonight returns on Thursday evenings at 8.30pm.

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