Unclaimed benefits

One in four elderly people struggling financially as billions of benefits go unclaimed
    Nearly three million pensioners are having money problems, with many unable to pay regular bills or keep their homes warm as more than £3.5bn worth of benefits for pensioners are going unclaimed each year, according to a study by Age UK.
   The charity said that despite many older people experiencing financial hardship huge sums are going unclaimed every year in benefits as pensioners are not receiving adequate support in claiming the money for which they are eligible.
   The latest Government figures show that 800,000 pensioners are living in “material deprivation”, unable even to afford the basics. Last year the number of pensioners living below the poverty line rose to 1.9 million.
   Sally West, Policy manager at Age UK, told The Independent: “Some people just don’t know that there are benefits out there; they just haven’t heard of benefits like the pensions credit. This is combined with other concerns. For example, people think they might have to fill in long forms, give lots of personal information.  And people often just don’t like to ask for help. They feel there’s something not quite right about claiming benefits. In some cases, local authorities are encouraging council tax support applications to be done online, which can be particularly difficult for older pensioners.”
   Pension Credit is a non-taxable benefit based on a person's income. The benefit tops up pensioners' weekly income to £159.35 for single people or £243.25 for couples. Additional amounts may be payable for people with caring responsibilities, severe disabilities or certain housing costs.
   Age UK Bucks offer Welfare & Benefits advice over the phone and can carry out home visits. Call them for a welfare benefit check on 01296 431 911 and they can help and support you through your claim.
    Citizens Advice can also help. Local offices are Wycombe 0344 499 4108, Chesham 01494 545991, Buckingham 0344 245 1289, and Aylesbury 0344 411 1444

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