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Changes to couples benefits

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


What’s changed?

As of 15 May 2019, mixed age couples (where one partner is over the State Pension age (SPA) and the other partner has not yet reached SPA) were no longer able to choose whether they claim Universal Credit or Pension Credit and pension age Housing Benefit. Instead, they can only claim Universal Credit until they both reach SPA.

Read more about Pension Credit and Housing Benefit


Are claims backdated if I apply after 15 May 2019?

Claims made on or before 13 August 2019 may be backdated to before the rule change applied, provided you met the entitlement conditions applicable on 14 May 2019.


I was claiming Pension Credit or Housing Benefit before 15 May 2019. Am I affected?

If you were already claiming these benefits on 15 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 130 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.

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Last updated: Aug 20 2019

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