On 15 May, the Government will be making it harder for couples to claim Pension Credit and we estimate it could impact on hundreds of people with Parkinson's.
Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of pension age. It is designed to top-up the income of people who do not have a full State Pension.
NEW RULES FOR COUPLES
The Government has decided that from 15 May 2019 it will be changing the criteria which decides when couples can claim Pension Credit.
Previously, once 1 member of a couple reached pension age then both would be entitled to make a joint claim. However, from May, couples will only be able to make a joint claim once both members of the couple have passed State Pension age. In the mean time they will have to claim Universal Credit.
Those who manage to claim Pension Credit before 15 May will not be affected by this new rule, even if 1 of the couple is below State Pension age.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Couples can usually receive £255.25 a week on Pension Credit, but for Universal Credit couples can only receive £115.13 each week – a loss of income of around £7,300 a year.
Research demonstrates that people living with long-term health conditions face a larger financial burden. Our research in 2017 showed that a household where someone has Parkinson's loses an average of £16,582 each year due to the cost of living with the condition.
People receiving benefits need the additional income, and that extra £7,300 each year would make a massive difference. This change to Pensions Credit will leave even more disabled pensioners living in poverty.
Parkinson's UK Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser Michael Griffin said:
"It's shocking that people are being prevented from getting benefits they need simply because of the age of the person they are in a relationship with.
"Anyone who meets the criteria for Pension Credit is already on a low income. This is once again taking money away from those who need it most.
"We have written to the Secretary of State calling for the changes to be put on hold whilst an urgent review is carried out into the impact it will have on disabled people."
QUESTIONS ABOUT BENEFITS
Our helpline and local advisers are here to answer any questions you have about Parkinson's, including accessing benefits and support.
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If you are living with Parkinson's, will be affected by this change and want to share your experience with us, please email [email protected] or call 020 7963 9349.