County Durham residents who are over pensionable age are being urged to check if they are entitled to Pension Credit.
Durham County Council is supporting a national Pension Credit Day of Action on Wednesday (June 15) in the hope that more people aged 66 and over are able to access the means-tested benefit.
In the last year, the council has helped residents claim an additional £1.4m in the credit, and its welfare rights team also offers a full benefit check to residents as well as confidential advice.
It is believed that many people assume they will not qualify for support if they have a work pension or savings, despite the first £10,000 in savings not counting towards a claim.
In fact, anyone with a weekly income less than £182.60 for a single person, or £278.70 for a couple, is likely to qualify for Pension Credit, while those with a higher income who have a disability or act as a carer to a disabled person may also qualify.
Even people who have previously been told that they did not qualify are urged to check, as a change in circumstances, such as a bereavement or ill health, could affect this.
The average payment for the benefit is over £65 per week, or more than £3,000 per year.
Even a small weekly award of Pension Credit will allow some people to claim help with health costs such as glasses and dental treatment, and a free TV license for those aged 75 or over.
Cllr Alan Shield, cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “We want to ensure that everyone who lives in County Durham has access to the support they are entitled to, including Pension Credit, which also provides a pathway to other benefit entitlements.
“We have a dedicated team of friendly staff on hand to offer confidential advice, support and a full benefit check to residents.
“We would urge everyone to check whether they are eligible, particularly those who are struggling financially, as even a small increase in benefit awards could assist people in managing their household income better.”
The council’s welfare rights team can be contacted on 03000 268968 or via [email protected]