Universal Credit UK: Some pensioners may need to claim this benefit after change in rules

Universal Credit is a benefits system which is replacing six legacy benefits, and these are Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and Working Tax Credit. It’s currently available across the UK for new claimants, as well as any existing legacy benefits claimants who have had a change in circumstances.


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Some households in which there is a person who has reached state pension age may also claim the benefit, and they may need to do this following a change in rules in May last year.

The Universal Credit eligibility rules state people may be able to get it if they or their partner are under state pension age.

Last year, a change relating to Pension Credit eligibilty took place, and has meant that some mixed-age couples are no longer able to get Pension Credit, leaving them instead needing to apply for Universal Credit.

Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit that is made up of two parts, and these are Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

In order to qualify, a person must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached state pension age.

Meanwhile, those who are in a couple can start getting Pension Credit if either:

  • They and their partner have both reached state pension age
  • One of them is getting Housing Benefit for people over state pension age.

Some people may wonder what counts as a partner under these rules.

“Your partner is your husband, wife or civil partner (if you live with them) or someone else you live with as if you were married,” Gov.uk states.

People who were getting Pension Credit before May 15, 2019 will continue to do so, even if their partner is under state pension age.

However, if circumstances change, and the entitlement therefore stops for any reason, then the recipient cannot start getting it again unless they or their partner are eligible under the new rules.

Following the change, people will stop getting Pension Credit if they begin living with a partner who is under state pension age.


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They can start getting it again when their partner reaches state pension age.

If one person in a couple is state pension age, then the couple can apply for Universal credit as a couple, should the other be under state pension age and eligible for Universal Credit.

However, when both people reach state pension age, their Universal Credit claim will stop.

It may that at this point, they’re then able to apply for Pension Credit or other benefits as a couple, Gov.uk states.

Universal Credit UK: Who is eligible?

It may be a person is able to get Universal Credit if:

  • They’re on a low income or out of work
  • They’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if a person is 16 to 17)
  • They’re under state pension age (or their partner is)
  • They and their partner have £16,000 or less in savings between them
  • They live in the UK.

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