Age Scotland uncovers more than £1.5 million of unclaimed benefits for older people

Age Scotland uncovers more than £1.5 million of unclaimed benefits for older people

Age Scotland has identified £1,577,341.81 of unclaimed benefits for older people who called their helpline in 2023, more than double the figure for the previous year, and a record amount for the charity.

Scotland’s national charity for older people said the amount – a remarkable 136% increase on the 2022 figure - is still the ‘tip of the iceberg’, with millions of pounds unclaimed by older people who are entitled to more financial support.

Katherine Crawford, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Many of the callers to our helpline are facing severe financial hardship, in part due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. For the tens of thousands of pensioners in Scotland on low and middle incomes, claiming the full range of benefits to which they are entitled can be the difference between heating their home or not and being able to eat well.

“Our helpline advisers, who carry out benefits checks, have also noticed an increase in the number of over 50s inquiring about working age benefits, such as Universal Credit, as the impact of the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

“However we still believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that there are millions of pounds of benefits for older people which are not being claimed.

Unfortunately there is a real lack of awareness around what support is available and a strong feeling that the application processes are too hard. Around a third of over 50s say they don’t claim what they are entitled to because they feel guilty doing so or that someone else would be more deserving. We must change this as far too many go without the help they have earned.

“We would encourage more older people in Scotland to call our helpline for a free benefits check. Our expert advisers can help callers navigate the complex benefits system - and the results could be life changing.”

Among the benefits available to older people in need are Pension Credit, available to people over State Pension age on low income or with modest savings, to help with the cost of living, and Attendance Allowance, a payment for people over State Pension age who have a physical or mental disability.

Anyone over the age of 50 can call the Age Scotland national helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

Case Study One:

Mr A is a father of 5 school age children. He has health problems and also provides care for his 19 year old adult son. He was previously on Tax Credits but has now had to make a claim for Universal Credit and was unsure about how much he might be able to get.

We carried out several calculations to look at the full range of his potential entitlements, factoring in all of his financial and family circumstances, in particular being able to reassure him that restrictions like the benefit cap and two child limit would not apply in his case.

We were able to explain to him that he could be entitled to the equivalent of £38, 342 per year in benefits and gave him advice about some common problems he might encounter when claiming and what steps he could take if these happened.

Case Study Two:

Mrs M called from South Lanarkshire after being signposted to Age Scotland by DWP Pension Credit team. She is in her late sixties and has been the main carer for her husband. He recently passed away and she has been struggling to manage rising costs on her state pension. She applied for Pension Credit and was informed she is £2 over the threshold to qualify for this.

During the call, she explained she has COPD and other health issues. Her caring role has taken a toll on her health, and she finds it more difficult to cope on a daily basis. We discussed Attendance Allowance, and she plans to apply for this.

When awarded this will increase her income by £68 per week in addition to making her eligible for a Pension Credit award of approximately £70 per week. This will increase her weekly income of £203 to approximately £338 per week, in addition to allowing her to access help with health costs.

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