Pensioners on low incomes are being urged to check their eligibility for Pension Credit to avoid losing out on £650 in financial support to help with the cost-of-living.
Those living on a low state pension have until next week – Thursday, August 18 – to submit a claim to the Department for Work and Pensions.
People may be eligible for Guaranteed Pension Credit if their weekly income is less than £182.60 if they are single, or less than £278.70 for couples.
The £650 payment, announced by the UK Government in May, will be paid to those who receive Pension Credit in two lump sums of £326 and £324.
The first of the two payments started to be sent to bank accounts on July 14, while the second is being paid out during the autumn.
New, successful applicants will receive the full £650 payment.
To receive the extra payment, older people must have been able to claim Pension Credit between April and May this year.
However, anyone beginning a successful application for Pension Credit before August 18 will still be entitled to both the benefit and the extra payment because the application can be backdated by three months.
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, underlined the importance of Pension Credit.
“With growing numbers of older people in Scotland struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, it is vital that those on the lowest incomes receive everything they are entitled to,” he said.
“Every year in Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds in social security payments go unclaimed by older people due to a lack of awareness, difficultly in accessing them, stigma surrounding benefits or just not knowing where to turn for help.
“Pension Credit is not only an essential benefit, but it opens the door to much more additional support including help with energy bills in the winter, a free TV licence for over-75s, help with rent and council tax reduction, free dental care and reduced water bills.”
Sloan explained the need for people to ensure that they start the application process.
He said: “We want every older person to get every penny of support they can, but worryingly we know that around 123,000 eligible low-income pensioners in Scotland are not claiming Pension Credit.
“Now with just over a week to go before the deadline for getting the extra cost of living payment, we are urging all pensioners on a low income to act quickly and start the application process.
“We don’t want to see anyone miss out an extra £650 at such a challenging time for older people.”
Age Scotland can be contacted on their free helpline on 0800 12 44 222. One of their advisers can carry out a full benefits check and help you start the application process.
You can also check if you might be eligible through the Age Scotland website’s free benefits calculator at www.age.scot/benefitscalculator.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges some pensioners will be facing with the cost of living which is why promoting Pension Credit is a priority.
“During the week of our recent Pension Credit Day of Action we saw a 275% increase in claims – but we’re not stopping there.
“We’re continuing to get the word out about Pension Credit, calling on everyone with retired family, friends and loved ones to check in with them and see if they can get this extra financial support, which can make a huge difference to people’s lives.”