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How do i claim pension credit

The government's new flagship benefit for pensioners starts on Monday - but working out whether you are entitled to the new credit can be rather puzzling.

The new credit could be a real boost for a pensioner living on a low income, but how will it work - and who will qualify?

BBC News Online put some of your questions on the new benefit to Age Concern, Help the Aged and the Pensions Advisory Service.

Answered by Malcolm McLean, chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service:

Q: My mother is 83 and her only income is the basic state pension based on my father's NI record. She does not claim any additional State Benefits as she has always felt that her savings are too high - I believe she has around Ј20k in savings. Can she claim the new credit?

A: Income from savings is taken into account in the calculation for Pension Credit not as actual income but on the basis of an assumed rate. Pension Credit assumes an individual is earning an income of Ј1 a week for every Ј500 (or part of Ј500) saved after the first Ј6,000 (Ј10,000 if you are in a care home).

On savings of Ј20,000 a weekly income of Ј28 will be assumed (Ј20,000 - Ј6,000 = Ј14,000 divided by Ј500 = Ј28)

This would be added to her state pension and if the total exceeds

Ј139.10 a week, she is unlikely to be entitled to the Pension Credit. If her income is lower than this, she should certainly make a claim for Pension Credit.

Q: I am writing concerning my Mother. She is 80 and in a nursing home that costs over Ј25,000 per year. Her Pensions total about Ј11,000 so she has to use remaining savings to pay the shortfall of Ј14,000 per year. Is she entitled to additional Pension Credits?

A: Based on the information provided, and her pension totalling about Ј11,000 a year (Ј211 a week), I'm afraid that your mother's income exceeds the limits for qualification of the Pension Credit.

But, if you feel you may still be eligible, contact the claimline on 0800 991234.

Q: I applied for this for my mother who is permanently in a care home. It was rejected but they deducted Ј6000 from here savings rather than Ј10,000 I would like further guidance.

A: If your mother is permanently in a care home, then the higher savings disregard of Ј10,000 should apply (see above).

Whether or not she qualifies for Pension Credit depends on the type and extent of her other income.

Having appealed, you can now only await the Pension Service's decision.

Q: My partner is a pensioner on Ј77. Will she receive the Ј24 or will my circumstances affect it. I am in full employment.

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