Benefits Expert: ‘When will I be eligible for Pension Credit?’

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Q As a carer for my mum I receive Carer’s Allowance of £55.55 a week. Could I claim anything else?

Fran (Seaham).

A Yes. Carers like you are entitled to higher rates of Income Support or Pension Credit depending upon their age.

If you are between 25 and pension age for example you can have your income made up to £98.50 a week.

Q Three years ago I asked you how old I would have to be to get my State Pension as I had heard the pension age for women was going up.

You said that as I was born in June 1951 I would qualify in July 2012 when I would be 61 years and one month.

I believe the rules have since changed again. Will this make any difference to me?

Margaret (by Email).

A Not to you but some younger people will lose out because of the new changes.

Originally the pension age for women was to be increased from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020, rising by six months every year.

This is happening at present but the Government now proposes to increase the pension age for both men and women to 66 from 2020.

This will mean the pace of change will speed up from late 2016 so that the pension age for women will reach 65 by the end of 2018.

Thereafter the pension age for all will gradually rise to 66 by April 2020.

Q As I have not worked for a long time due to depression I have not paid much National Insurance so I have to rely upon Income Support.

When will I be eligible for Pension Credit? I have heard that if you are divorced you can claim a State Pension on your ex-husband’s stamps. Would this apply to me?

I was married for 13 years and have been divorced for 20.

I was born in October 1951 and my ex-husband is now 60.

Mrs. B.

A You can be considered for Pension Credit from the same date as you reach pension age.

In your case this will be in the spring of 2013 when you will be about 61 and a half.

Your ex-husband’s National Insurance record will be taken into account when your State Pension is worked out even if you reach pension age before he does.

You can get a forecast of how much State Pension to expect by phoning the Pensions Service on 0845 300 0168.

You could get your income topped up to Pension Credit level if you have less than a certain amount coming in. Currently for most single people that level is £137.35 a week.