Benefits you're entitled to: the over-50s

According to older people's charity, Age UK, nearly three million people over 65 are struggling financially, while government figures show that 1.9 million pensioners live below the poverty line. Despite this, the benefits targeted at older people are the most likely to go unclaimed.

The government estimates that up to 1.4 million pensioners do not claim one of the most important benefits for the retired - Pension Credit - with up to £3.1 billion unclaimed every year. The average amount unclaimed is significant – £2,000 per family, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Other benefits that also go unclaimed by older people include housing benefit and council tax benefit.

David Samson, welfare benefits expert at the Turn2us benefits advice service, run by the Elizabeth Finn Trust, says that many pensioners are not aware of the financial support available to them. “For example, they may be getting their state pension but not be aware that they are entitled to pension credit,” he says. “The rules for pension credit are more generous than the rules for working people, so they may have an entitlement that they don’t realise.

"It’s important to get the message out there as we know that claiming the correct benefits can make a huge difference to quality of life."

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: “Despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5 billion in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives.”

The benefits that are on offer change as you get older – but some are available to people as young as 50 years old.

Here is an overview of what you can claim in your 50s.

Benefits in your 50s

With people in the UK living longer than ever before and the state pension age rising, most people are expected to have many years of work in front of them when they turn 50.

However, the government is concerned about the number of people in their 50s who are unemployed and find it hard to seek work. The unemployment rate for those aged 50-54 is now lower than the population as a whole, at 3.2% compared with 4.7% overall, but there is evidence that those who lose their jobs later in life find it harder to find employment again.

Recent analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that this is particularly likely for those with fewer qualifications or on a lower income.

There is some help for over 50s to get into work, with Job Centres sometimes offering specific advice for over 50s, including IT training, while older people are also eligible for the apprenticeship schemes and the New Enterprise Allowance for starting up their own businesses, subject to eligibility.

While you are in your 50s, you are also still eligible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance if you are looking for work. After you reach state pension age, this benefit is no longer available.

Jobseeker's Allowance

What is it?

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for those who could work but who currently aren't but are looking for a job. The maximum amount you can get under JSA is £57.90 per week if you are under 25, £73.10 if you are 25 or over or £114.85 per week if you’re a couple both aged over 18.

How much might you get?

There are three different types of JSA, which we describe below. These rules apply to those living in England, Scotland or Wales – the eligibility rules are slightly different in Northern Ireland.

Income-based JSA, is means tested. You only get income-based JSA if your income and savings are low enough. If you have a partner they must either not be working, or working fewer than 24 hours a week, and you must be working for 16 hours a week or less. You must have £16,000 or less in savings. Income-based JSA is very variable, depending on savings, housing costs and other circumstances. It is calculated by comparing your income to an amount that the government considers enough to live on. You cannot receive income-based JSA and Universal Credit at the same time.

Contribution-based JSA, is not means tested, but is based on your Class 1 National Insurance contributions. Contribution-based JSA is received for six months after becoming unemployed if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions.

New style JSA, works the same way as contribution-based JSA. It is available for those who can apply for the new Universal Credit. Currently this applies to single people living anywhere in England Wales or Scotland, or a couple or family living in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced.

Although you can get new style JSA at the same time as Universal Credit, it will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment.

Further information

  • Visit turn2us.org.uk for a benefits calculator or call the freephone helpline on 0808 802 2000.
  • Contact ageuk.org.uk for advice specifically aimed at older people or call the freephone number 0800 169 2081.

 

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