Pensioner who was 'terrified' of running out of savings had no idea she was missing out on state pension top-up

Pensioner worried at laptop

Pension Credit can boost income by thousands

Temi Laleye

By Temi Laleye

Published: 24/04/2024

- 15:50

Pensioners entitled to Pension Credit but not claiming it are missing out on £2.162billion in support, according to research by Policy in Practice

A pensioner’s life savings were being drained trying to keep up with service charges and utility bills, as well as the rising cost of living.

Miriam,* 73, was left in shock after realising she had “no money to spare,” in her retirement despite having a successful career.

However, finding out about an underclaimed state pension top-up benefit has improved her quality of life, as well as helping her feel more in control of her savings.

Miriam, who lives in Westminster, London, retired when she was 63 and had been forced to conserve heating and shop wisely so she could save money.

In a bid to keep bills low, she planned to spend her time in libraries and community spaces during winter to save money on her heating bills.

Miriam said: “It’s a shock, after my career and lifestyle, to now have no money to spare. Even if I had it I would be too frightened to spend it.”

Woman at laptop

According to Policy in Practice, the average Pension Credit claim is worth £2,677 a year


One in four older Londoners live in poverty according to Age UK London’s Poverty Report 2023.

Many of these older people living in London do not know they are entitled to Pension Credit. According to Policy in Practice, the average Pension Credit claim is worth £2,677 a year.

Miriam found out about Pension Credit from a friend and her application was successful.

Over the short term she was able to claim extra money which helped her manage the rising bills.

Delighted with the support, she said: “If someone had let me know my entitlements it would have made life a lot easier.

“With the extra help my savings were not dwindling quite as rapidly.”

The 73-year-old lives alone in a flat that she owns so must pay for high service charges and ground rent by herself.

As a successful Pension Credit claimant, she could also receive help with her service charges.

Miriam applied for the support to help and, again, her application was successful. However, she felt the application process was not quite as easy as applying for Pension Credit.

Research from Policy in Practice shows that administrative complexity is a huge barrier for take up of support and one of the reasons why £19billion of support is unclaimed across the UK each year.

Around 880,000 people who were entitled to Pension Credit did not claim it in 2021/2022, government figures have shown.

Up to £2.1billion went unclaimed, or around £2,200 a year for each family who were entitled to but did not claim Pension Credit.

Britons can use a free Pension Credit calculator on GOV.UK to check entitlement.

After listening to a money saving expert on the radio, Miriam discovered social tariffs were available for Pension Credit claimants, which meant she could make savings on her broadband as well as her utilities too.

Since then, Miriam has had other help including free dentist visits and money off her glasses prescriptions.


She is now back to saving for her service charges and feeling more in control. She said her quality of life has improved and she is also thankful for the help from the government with payments for energy bills as well as the friends and organisations who helped her to claim.

Policy in Practice secured £8.4million in unclaimed Pension Credit for pensioners across London via its work with the Greater London Authority and 17 London Boroughs.

The data led campaign contacted households who were eligible for Pension Credit but not claiming and signposted them to organisations like Age UK London to help them apply.

People can check whether they may be entitled to extra support online, using a free, independent benefits calculator, such as those hosted by Policy in Practice, Turn2us and entitledto.

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