elderly woman receives care

Pensioners are missing out on hundreds of pounds of benefits that they are entitled to. Half are failing to claim at least some of their money, while almost a quarter aren't claiming any at all. They are losing hundreds, if not thousands of pounds a year.

So what is stopping them?


Unclaimed

Research from Just Retirement Solutions found that 23% of pensioners were failing to claim any benefit they were entitled to, losing an average of £655 income each year. The highest amount left unclaimed in the survey was one individual who could have boosted their income by £3,631 a year by claiming.

Meanwhile a third who were claiming some benefit were not receiving their full entitlement, with £213 a year on average lost. The highest amount unclaimed in the survey was £2,365 a year.

"Many pensioners are struggling to make ends meet due to insufficient pension income and depressed savings returns," said Stephen Lowe, Just Retirement's group external affairs and customer insight director. "At the same time they are missing out by failing to claim the benefits they should be receiving, often to the tune of hundreds of pounds each year that could make a real difference to their quality of lives."

He added that the company had been doing this research for the last three years and that the number who weren't claiming was going up.

The biggest gap was for Council Tax Benefit. This is claimed by 26% of people who replied to the survey - but it should have been claimed by 48%. Meanwhile savings pension credit was being claimed by 11% but should have been claimed by 19%.

The one benefit which seems to be commonly claimed is the guaranteed pensions credit – just 1% of those surveyed were failing to claim any entitlement and 4% were not claiming the full amount.

So why not claim?

It's not that they don't need the cash. The survey found that a large proportion of those who weren't claiming were living in an average-value property. These aren't people who can't be bothered to claim because they are too fabulously wealthy.

In many cases they don't know they are entitled to anything. The researchers said that many people felt the value of their property would rule them out of getting any help - but this isn't the case with many pensioner benefits.

In some instances, people find it all too confusing. "Part of the problem is what people perceive as the constant tinkering with the benefits rules that make it hard for people to keep up with the complexities," said Lowe.

In others, people just don't feel they should claim, because they have never claimed benefits before. However, it's fair to say that these people have put plenty into the system in order to protect the more vulnerable members of society - so that now they are more vulnerable they are entitled to claim.

Lowe says: "Each year these figures have highlighted the same message – pensioners shouldn't assume the financial support isn't available, make sure you check so you know for sure."

If it's a daunting prospect you can seek help from an adviser or an expert at any of the charities - such as Citizens Advice Bureau or StepChange - who know the system backwards and can guide you though it.

Download this handy booklet on 10 tips to improving you pension for free!

But what do you think? Would you claim every penny? is there ever a good reason to miss out on hundreds of pounds in pensioner benefits? Let us know in the comments.


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