According to official figures, there are between 1.14 and 1.63 million pensioners who have yet to claim Pension Credit and who could be better off if they did. It is regrettable therefore that the unhappy saga of many who have claimed Tax Credits is affecting decisions by pensioners to claim the Pension Credit.
Despite similarities in name Tax Credits, which are administered by HM Revenue & Customs, are governed by an entirely different set of rules from the Pension Credit which is administered by The Pension Service.
Overpayments of Tax Credits are common, are built into the system, and usually recoverable even without error on the part of the claimant. However overpayments of pension credit are infrequent, and are only recoverable in certain circumstances, chiefly when a person has failed to disclose or misrepresented a material fact. In addition:
- Any adjustments because of changes in circumstances or income will only affect the rate of Pension Credit payable from the date of the change going forward. By contrast, in calculating adjustments to Tax Credits, any changes can affect previous periods.
- Also, if you are over 65, Pension Credit may be assessed for a 5 year period based on your current qualifying income, and generally only changes in personal circumstances or reductions in income need to be reported. At the end of the 5 years, entitlement is re-assessed based on your income and circumstances at that point and any adjustments to your Pension Credit take effect from the beginning of the next period. Again, there is no retrospection, as can be the case for Tax Credits.
You can be more re-assured that the Pension Credit you receive is yours to spend and will not suddenly be claimed back.
Pension Credit is also easier to claim than Tax Credits, as The Pension Service can often offer face to face assistance and where appropriate home visits to assist in the completion of forms. At the same time the Pensions Service may give help and advice on claiming other benefits or entitlements that the pensioner may be due.
This method of contact contrasts starkly with the customer service offered by HMRC.
Further information concerning Pension Credit can be found here.
Contact Name: Robin Williamson (Contact tel: 0844 579 6700 , Fax: 0844 579 6701)