Thousands of people on state pensions have just days left to claim direct cost of living payments – what to do NOW

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Hundreds of thousands of pensioners have just days left to secure a cost of living payment worth up to £650.

The money is distributed to help millions of low-income people struggling with rising bills.

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The extra cash could help cover rising energy bills this winterCredit: Alamy

Those on pension credit are among those receiving benefits who have already received £326 in their bank account.

You cannot claim the cost of living payment directly, but you can still claim a pension credit which may qualify you for the additional payment.

About 958,000 people on state pensions and on low incomes do not benefit from the pension credit, which tops up weekly pension payments.

A claim made before August 18 could be backdated for up to three months, meaning if successful you could get the cost of living in cash.

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Backdating would take you back to the first qualifying period for the first half of the £650 cost of living payment.

You must have claimed a pension credit, or subsequently been found eligible for one, between April 26 and May 25.

Not only could you get the £326 cost of living money, but the benefit itself could give you a cash boost of up to £3,300 a year and access to other perks like a TV license.

Anyone who misses the deadline must still make a claim as you will get that boost, and the second half of the £650 cost of living payment which will be paid this autumn.

The extra money comes as millions of households face a huge rise in their energy bills this winter.

The price cap which sets a unit price limit on how much you can be charged is expected to be £3,628 in October for the typical dual-fuel fare.

That’s currently £1,971, but it could be more or less depending on how much power you’re using.

Pensioners are also due to receive a separate payment of £300 for living costs this winter.

Who is eligible for pension credit and how much can I get?

The pension credit is there to give a boost to those over the state pension age if they have a low income.

The base rate tops your earnings up to £182.60 per week for singles and £278.70 for couples – although you can get more depending on your personal circumstances.

You might get more if you are a caregiver or disabled, for example.

According to the latest government statistics for January, the average reward is £64 per week. Over the course of a year, that’s £3,328.

The pension credit has two components: the guarantee credit and the savings credit. You may be entitled to one or both parts.

The guarantee credit supplements your weekly income up to a minimum amount, while the savings credit is a small supplement for people who have a small income or savings.

To benefit from it, you, or your partner if you live with one, must have reached the legal retirement age, which is currently set at 66 years.

You must also live in England, Scotland or Wales

Your household income will be calculated during your application and if you do not reach the thresholds, you will receive an additional amount.

Your income includes:

  • State pension
  • other retreats
  • income from employment and self-employment
  • most social security benefits, e.g. care allowance

If you have £10,000 or less in savings and investments this will not affect your pension credit.

If you have more than £10,000, every £500 over £10,000 counts as £1 of weekly income.

It’s worth claiming a pension credit even if you only get a penny, as the benefit unlocks access to other retiree benefits.

This includes a free TV license for over 75s and the Warm Home discount worth £150 this winter.

How can I apply for a pension credit?

You must apply to receive the pension credit on the government website.

You can also call the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

And you can apply by mailhowever, with the deadline just a few days away, it may mean that you are not guaranteed a successful application.

You can start your application up to four months before reaching the legal retirement age.

The statutory retirement age is currently 66 for both men and women.

You can also apply at any time after reaching the legal retirement age, but your application can only be backdated by three months.

This means you could get up to three months of benefits on your first payment if you qualified during that time.

If you apply, you will need the following information about yourself and your partner if you have one to hand:

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  • national insurance number
  • information about the income, savings and investments you have
  • information about your income, savings and investments as of the date you wish to backdate your request (usually 3 months ago or the date you reached the legal retirement age)

You will also need your bank details on which you will receive payments.

Cost of living payment: what you need to know

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