BENEFITS EXPERT: Unsure about your State Pension?

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I will start to receive my State Pension in April when I reach the women’s pension age which will be 63 by then.

I am currently on the sick and pay reduced rent and Council Tax. Who do I have to tell when I get to pension age? I keep getting different answers.

At present you appear to be receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because you are on the sick plus Housing Benefit for your rent and Council Tax Benefit.

I am also assuming that you live by yourself. ESA stops when the person reaches pension age, so you will not receive it beyond then. From then the benefits you may be able to claim are State Pension and Guarantee Pension Credit. You may also continue to be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

The Pension Service should contact you in January with details about how to claim your State Pension.

If you do not hear from them by the end of January you should ring them on 0800 731 7898 to make a claim.

The Pension Service will be able to tell you what your State Pension will be.

When you know this I suggest that you claim Guarantee Pension Credit. You can do this by ringing 0800 99 1234 any time up to four months before you reach pension age.

People who qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit will automatically be entitled to maximum Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

If you do qualify, your claims for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit will be dealt with when you claim Guarantee Pension Credit.

If you do NOT qualify for Guarantee Pension Credit, you will have to make a separate claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. You can do this by contacting your council.

My husband, who is 67, has deferred drawing his State Pension.

He has been told it will be increased to about £185 a week.

If he does not take it before the new pension arrangements come in next April, will his pension be restricted to the new rate of £155.56 a week?

Next year’s pension changes only affect those who reach pension age on or after 6 April 2016.

They do not affect people reaching pension age before then, even if like your husband they have put off taking their State Pension to beyond the date of change.

The longer he puts it off, the more he will receive.

He could take a lump sum instead of an enhanced pension, but this option will not be open to those who reach pension age on or after 6 April.