Boost Your Pension For FreePosted on: 14 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Pensioners are missing out on billions of cash. Make sure you don't with our advice.
It's perhaps surprising that during the credit crunch many UK pensioners are not claiming money that they are entitled to.
With Pension Credits and Winter Fuel Payments, savings bonuses for higher rate taxpayers, and potentially pleasant surprises for those with long forgotten schemes, you may find a way to increase your retirement income at no extra cost by reading on.
As much as £2 billion of pension credits will remain unclaimed this year, reveals research from Unbiased.co.uk. Even though pensioners are feeling the sharp rise of inflation and the impact of the credit crunch, approximately one in four of them are failing to claim their full Pension Credits.
Pension Credits are a government entitlement for people aged 60 or over, guaranteeing them an income of at least £124.05 a week if you are single. Yet with between 22 per cent and 28 per cent of pensioners failing to realise their entitlements, this valuable source of income is being wasted by many retirees.
Those who own their own home or live with their grown up family can still apply. Even if the Pensions Service only award a small amount it may mean that you can get help with other things such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. The Pension Service can help people apply for Pension Credit, and claim Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit at the same time over the phone.
You can apply for Pension Credit by freephone by calling 0800 99 1234 or textphone 0800 169 0133, 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm Saturday, or visit www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/pensioncredit.
Pension Tracing Service
Those who have changed jobs over their career and had several occupational or personal pension schemes may have lost the details of one or more. If you think you may have an old pension scheme, but are unsure of the details, the Pension Tracing Service can often help by tracing it for you free of charge.
The service aims to re-unite people with any unclaimed pension benefits. It has access to a database of over 200,000 occupational and personal pension schemes and can be used to search for a scheme, as long as you know at least the name of your previous employer or pension scheme. If you can give them more information they will have a better chance of finding a current contact and address for the scheme.
When a pension trace is completed, the Pension Tracing Service will inform you in writing of the outcome and, where possible, provide you with current contact details. You can then use this information to contact the identified pension provider to pursue any pension entitlement.
You, or your representative, can request a pension trace by completing an appropriate form. This can be obtained in writing, over the telephone on 0845 6002 537 from Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, or through The Pension Service website at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/atoz/atozdetailed/pensiontracing.asp.
Additional Voluntary Contribution
Working people in company pension schemes are missing out on huge sums by neglecting to save in tax-efficient ways. In fact, high-rate taxpayers that are that are members of their employers' occupational pension scheme will give an unnecessary extra £726 million to the tax man this year by failing to make Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), according to Unbiased.co.uk.
AVCs run alongside employers' pension schemes and allow employees to pay extra into their pension which should result in a larger pension pot at retirement. AVCs benefit from the same tax relief as contributions paid into the main pension scheme, so it makes sense to benefit from this tax-efficient way of saving for retirement.
Winter Fuel Payment
People aged 60 or over are entitled to a tax-free Winter Fuel Payment in winter 2008.
This year people aged 60 to 79 who are entitled to receive a payment will get either £125 or £250, while those aged 80 or over will get either £200, £275 or £400. This depends on their circumstances during the qualifying week, such as living alone and receiving Pension Credit or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. Couples receiving Pension Credit or or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance will only get one payment made to the person receiving that benefit. Other couples will get £100 each if both partners are entitled to a payment.
The Winter Fuel Payment should be automatic for those who received one last year as long as their circumstances have not changed, or who are receiving a State Pension or other social security benefit - not including Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit - during the qualifying week of 15th to 21st September 2008.
If you receive a State Pension or other social security benefit - not including Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit - but not during the qualifying week, you will need to make a claim for this winter's payment. You should return the claim form on or before 30th March 2009, which you can get by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 08459 15 15 15 or textphone 0845 601 5613, from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, or visiting www.pensionservice.gov.uk/winterfuel.
www.pensionservice.gov.uk - this Government website provides information about pensions and pensioner benefits, for those planning for the future, about to retire or already retired.
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