Over 1 million pensioners who may be entitled to Pension Credit should check if they are missing out on extra cash, Pensions Minister Steve Webb said today.Up to 1.6 million pensioners are failing to claim this benefit, with almost £3 billion of Pension Credit going unclaimed every year according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Those who do receive the benefit are automatically entitled to a Cold Weather Payment.
If average temperatures are recorded as or forecast to be zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days, then those who get Pension Credit are automatically entitled to a Cold Weather Payment of £25.
Those who aren't getting Pension Credit could be missing out on these payments - triggered in two thirds of the country after the cold snap - which provide vital reassurance that people can afford to turn up the heating as temperatures plummet below zero.
Over 3 million people have already benefited this winter, but the DWP say that around 4 million people are potentially eligible for Cold Weather Payments. Over half of these are pensioners who receive Pension Credit, but payments are also made to disabled adults and children, and families with children under five who receive an income-related benefit.
Pension Credit tops up an income to £137.35 a week for a single person, and to £209.79 for a couple. Those with savings or a work pension could still be eligible as could those who own their own homes.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb said he was "very concerned" that so many people could be missing out on the cash: "During this cold snap it's even more important that people claim so they don't miss out on Cold Weather Payments.
"If anyone thinks a family member, a friend or neighbour might be entitled to Pension Credit, I'd encourage them to ask them to get in touch and find out."
The average weekly award of Pension Credit is £57 a week - that's almost £3,000 a year which could make a huge difference.
Bear in mind that Pension Credit can be backdated by up to three months and you will get your Cold Weather Payments for that period as well.
More help for older people
Older people and pensioners should be aware that there is a range of assistance available to help with their fuel bills.
Most people over 60 will receive Winter Fuel Payments, which will be paid at the rate of £200 for households with someone who has reached women's State Pension age and is aged under 80 and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over.
Pensioners can also receive help with heating and insulation costs through the Warm Front scheme, and over 600,000 pensioners on only the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit will also receive a rebate of £120 on their electricity bills this Winter through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
- Retired expats get winter fuel payment
- Seven ways to triple pension income
- The best pension system in the world?