Changes in rules will mean some couples miss out on over £7,000 a year!
These couples need to Act Now to safeguard this income.
The couples affected are 'mixed age couples' ie where one member of the couple is working age and their partner is Pension Credit age.
The Government wants 'mixed age' couples to claim Universal Credit.
From 15th May 2019 most mixed age couples will no longer be able to make new claims for Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit UNLESS they are already in receipt of Pension Credit or Housing Benefit under the State Pension Credit age Regulations.
Instead, if they need a financial top and/or help paying their rent they will need to claim Universal Credit.
In addition where a Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit claimant becomes a couple with a working age partner, then that will trigger the end to the PC and/or HB and if they need a financial top up it will mean a new claim for Universal credit.
What's the issue?
The big issue here is that the majority of mixed age couples will be better off on the legacy benefit system ie claiming Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit.
This is because:
- When working out how much a mixed age couple needs to live on - it is over £140 per week less under Universal Credit.
- The younger member may be subject to work search conditions under Universal Credit.
- Unlike the legacy benefit rules - which work from the older member's age, these 'mixed age' couples on Universal Credit will be subject to the Universal Credit rules - therefore subject to:
- the social housing Bedroom Tax,
- the Benefit Cap,
- less generous temporary absence rules,
- less generous savings rules,
- less generous eligible service charge rules
(note: this is not an exhaustive list).
- if they are responsible for children, they can have extra amounts in their Pension Credit and there is no Two Child Limit rule.
- On Pension Credit and / or HB, they may be entitled to premiums they are not entitled to under UC eg the severe disability premium.
- They may lose support linked to Pension Credit such as cheaper utilities, maximum Council Tax Support (for people on Guarantee Pension Credit) etc.
However, some 'mixed age' couples may be better off on Universal Credit eg if they have working non-dependants, so 'better off' calculations need to be done.
Protections for some
Those mixed age couples already on Pension Credit and/or pension credit age Housing Benefit will not need to move onto UC while they remain entitled ie unless there is a break in their entitlement.
So where a mixed age couple is already claiming Pension Credit, then they can make a new claim for pension credit age Housing Benefit.
And where a mixed age couple are already claiming pension credit age Housing Benefit under the State Pension Credit age Regulations, then they can make a new claim for Pension Credit.
But isn't it too late?
The rules allow a mixed age couple to make a claim for Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing benefit after 15th May 2019 IF they can get that claim backdated to before 15th May 2019
All mixed age couples not already on Pension Credit and /or Housing Benefit should see if they can claim. We know that 4 in 10 households who could qualify for Pension Credit fail to make a claim!
If they make the claim before 14th August 2019 and it's gets backdated - even if they are awarded just 50p a week - this could then protect them from having to move onto UC if they have a change in their circumstances.
Click here for more details.