Age Scotland offers benefit checks for over 75s

Age Scotland is offering free benefit checks for over 75s to help people find out if they are eligible for Pension Credit.

The organisation is urging over 75s to call their helpline on 0800 12 44 222 to help them find out what they are entitled to.

The benefit could allow them to claim a free TV licence after the BBC announced that it plans to means test TV licences for the over 75s from 1 August. That means they will only be free for people receiving Pension Credit, a benefit designed to support pensioners on the lowest income.

But, according to the charity, two fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit, about 100,000 pensioners in Scotland, aren’t getting it. Some don’t know they can claim, many struggle to apply and lots more feel embarrassed about needing help.

Pension Credit is a means tested benefit for people over State Pension age to help with the cost of living. If you have a low income and modest savings it can top your income up to a level set by the Government. Receiving Pension Credit can entitle you to other help with rent, energy and health costs too.

The charity is now calling on anyone over 75 who is unsure to contact their free helpline and ask for a benefits check.

Age Scotland is also highlighting the significant danger for older people of being targeted by scammers attempting to take advantage of the introduction of new charges.

The charity urges over 75s not to reply to emails asking for bank details to pay for their TV licence or give details over the phone to callers who claim to be from the TV Licencing Authority.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “The decision to scrap free TV licences for over 75s is a cruel blow to hundreds of thousands of older people in Scotland and the timing is appalling, coming as it does during an uniquely challenging time for one of our most vulnerable populations.

“Around half of all over 75s are living with a disability and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment. During the coronavirus crisis the overwhelming majority of older people have been glued to their TV to stay up to date with what is happening and how it affects them.”

He added: “In Scotland nearly a third of over 75s are living in poverty and just above the poverty line. Expecting them to pay a hefty bill with hardly any notice is simply impossible when so many are barely scraping by as it is.

“We have a real fear that many vulnerable and lonely older people who are faced with the stark choice of whether to pay to watch TV or pay for other essentials, such as heating or food, will choose TV and end up suffering as a result.

“We would urge older to call our helpline on 0800 12 44 222 to find out if they are entitled to claim Pension Credit. This is a hugely underclaimed benefit which can make a real difference to the lives of those pensioners on a very low income, and if they are aged 75 or over it would mean that they can continue to watch TV without having to pay for a licence.”

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