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Changes to Universal Credit and Pensions Credit

From 15 May 2019 changes to law means mixed age couples where 1 is over pension age and 1 is under pension age, are no longer be able to choose to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit, they will instead have to make a claim for Universal Credit.


However, claims can be backdated for up to 3 months. So people can still start to receive these benefits if they meet the entitlement conditions on 14 May 2019 and make a claim by 13 August 2019.


Why is this this change important?

  • Pension Credit is paid at a higher level than Universal Credit, for example a couple on Pension Credit would be eligible to have their income topped up to £255.25 per week, compared with £115.13 per week on Universal Credit
  • The bedroom tax will continue to apply to them if they have a spare bedroom
  • There is no additional money for a couple where 1 member is not expected to work because they are over State Pension age.  
  • A single pensioner will be entitled to £167.25 per week Pension Credit; pensioners should not be put in a situation where they would be better off living alone and claiming Pension Credit than living as a couple receiving Universal Credit.
  • They will probably have to pay some Council Tax as they will not be able to claim Council Tax Benefit, which is less generous than the working age Council Tax Reduction Scheme


Mixed age couples already getting Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit won't be affected while they remain entitled to either benefit. They will be able to remain on Pension Credit or Housing Benefit unless they have a change in circumstances affecting their claim. This could be for example because one of them takes on a part time temporary job which ends their entitlement to Pension Credit. If the job then ends, they will not be able to go back onto Pension Credit.