Are you claiming the Benefits you are entitled to?
4 out of 10 older people aren’t. 82% of people we spoke to last year had unclaimed benefits that they had no idea they were entitled to!
Later life benefits accounts for around 56% of all welfare spending in Great Britain (£124 Billion in 2019/20).
I am often asked ‘Why are benefits so complicated’? There’s a question! Are benefits too complicated? Is it too hard to claim benefits? Or does it have to be a complex process to make sure the right support goes to the right people?
4 out of 10 older people have unclaimed benefit entitlement. Is this because there is a problem with ‘the system’ or is it working for most people? These are some of the reasons why these benefits aren’t being claimed are;
- Stigma – We don’t like to think of ourselves as disabled or old. We would rather someone else more deserving or needy had the extra. They won’t get your benefit entitlement, only you can claim that!
- Lack of awareness – We manage day to day with what we have. If you have never claimed benefits or needed any help before it isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. There may be some help, take advantage of it and let it help you live independently!
- Changing circumstances – The majority of the £4 billion of benefits left unclaimed is Pension Credit. The system isn’t designed to pick up on changes in our lives . The onus is on the person to be aware of their new eligibility and this can change really quickly. For example, a change in relationship status, moving into a care home or needing some support at home.
- Administration – application, reviews, appeals – people just can’t be bothered with the time and complexity of making the claim and dealing with the DWP.
What are Later Life Benefits?
Later Life benefits are the non means tested State Pension (although most would consider this as an earned right rather than a benefit!) and disability benefits plus the means tested Pension Credit, Housing and Council tax support.
- State Pension – (accounts for £99 billion 80% of later life benefit spend) – remember this still has to be claimed, despite paying National Insurance throughout your whole working life Revenues and Customs don’t tell the DWP computer when you are old enough to claim, it isn’t automatic!
- Disability benefits (Attendance Allowance, DLA and PIP) these account for only £11.1 billion 9.0% of benefit expenditure for older people and yet to the individual this can make the difference between coping and not). These benefits are specific to your circumstances. For example if you need help with daily tasks/ personal care or supervision to make sure you are safe. They usually begin with an application form, some are quite lengthy and are criteria driven.
- Housing benefits: £5.6 billion (4.6%) Help with rent for those on a lower income
- Council tax reductions and Council tax Exemption – Often missed, this is means tested OR an exemption may apply to a person or a property for example someone moving into long term care or living with a ‘severe mental impairement’, or a Band Reduction if you need a wheelchair indoors
- Pension Credit: £5.0 billion (4.0%) This is the most unclaimed benefit entitlement. Again, this is means tested benefit for people on a lower income.
Our website and blogs offer tips and information
The GOV.UK is a useful resource with benefit calculators and the DWP may be able to provide advice and support. If you need help to complete disability claim forms, charities for Carers and others for example Age UK, Citizens Advice and other disability or illness related charities may have volunteers who provide support free of charge. We can help with independent advice and benefit checks or help to filling in the forms but make a charge for personalised advice and support.