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Changes to couples benefits

The Government has announced plans to change the way benefits are given to couples where there's an age gap between them. Find out if this affects you and what you should do if it does.


What’s changing?

From 15 May 2019, couples where one person is over State Pension age while the other is under that age won’t be able to choose whether they claim Universal Credit or Pension Credit and pension-age Housing Benefit. Instead, both people will need to reach State Pension age before they can claim Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.

Because Universal Credit is less than pension-age benefits, you could lose out on quite a bit of money. Some couples could lose up to £7,000 a year, and a few could lose even more.


What can I do?

If you’re affected by these changes, you should make a claim for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit now, before the changes come into effect.

What benefits can you claim?

Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Age UK's Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.

Read more about Pension Credit and Housing Benefit


Are claims backdated if I apply after 15 May 2019?

Yes, but only for 3 months. Claims made on or before 13 August 2019 can be backdated to before the rule change applies, provided you meet the entitlement conditions applicable on 14 May 2019.

It's better to apply sooner rather than later though.


I’m already claiming Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. Am I affected?

If you're already claiming either of these benefits on 14 May 2019, you should not be affected. However, if your circumstances change or you take a break from claiming, it might mean you have to claim Universal Credit instead.

Some of the changes that might affect your claim include:

  • a change of address to a different local authority area
  • going abroad for more than 4 weeks
  • a change in the amount of capital you have
  • stopping claiming a benefit that helps you qualify you for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit
  • separating from your partner and then getting back together.

In these circumstances, it's best to get advice on your situation. Contact your local Age UK or call the Age UK Advice line.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.


We’re campaigning against these changes

We think the Government's plans are very unfair and risk making older people who are on low incomes more vulnerable. Read about our campaign, and how you can help.

Join our campaign

We are urging the Government to stop this unfair targeting of mixed aged couples. Help us tell them to reverse their decision.

 

Last updated: Mar 18 2019

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