As Benefits Awareness Month continues, a new survey commissioned by Turn2us, part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care, has revealed that large numbers of older people are unaware of their entitlement to Pension Credit.
Pension Credit serves as a top up to the state pension and is often a vital source of income. The need for awareness is highlighted by the fact that almost half of those surveyed are struggling to make ends meet, including many who have suffered a detrimental impact on their mental health as a direct result of their financial situation. And although over 9 in 10 of those surveyed are aware that Pension Credit exists, 8 in 10 of those potentially eligible are not claiming and well over half do not believe they qualify for Pension Credit at all.
These results are especially troubling given the fact that over the past six months, a quarter of those surveyed have struggled to pay their household bills, a third have had difficulties covering their housing costs, one in ten has had to miss one of the recommended three meals a day. Over half have struggled to buy clothes for themselves.
Turn2us case study, Aneira, found out about the Turn2us service from Macmillan Cancer Support, shortly after her husband died of cancer. Aneira had kept the house warm throughout the winter to keep her husband as comfortable as possible, and with enormous heating and electricity bills to pay and a funeral to finance, her debts were mounting. Aneira also has the responsibility of acting as carer for her son, who had a stroke, which places additional strain on her finances. Through using Turn2us, Aneira received some useful information about benefits, and has been able to claim state entitlement for carers. She said: “I really don’t know how I would have managed without this extra assistance. I have been under so much emotional stress and this support has eased a lot of my financial worry. I didn’t know where else to go up to this point and Turn2us has made all the difference.”
Turn2us launched its Benefits Awareness Month campaign at the beginning of April, urging anyone in financial need to visit www.turn2us.org.uk and ensure they are claiming all relevant benefits. There is an easy and quick to use benefits checker to calculate your possible entitlement to welfare benefits and tax credits. This is especially important for older people, who are one of the groups most likely to need a little extra help, and unlikely to believe they could or should claim. So, remember to check benefits awareness amongst oldrer family and friends.
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