How to claim Pension Credit

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Pension Credit is a weekly benefit to boost your income. You can apply online, by phone or by completing a form.

If you claim Pension Credit, you can usually get extra help with the cost of living - like Cost of Living Payments, a Budgeting Loan or a Council Tax Reduction.

Check what information you'll need before you claim

Before applying you'll need to gather the personal information the Pension Service need.

When you call them you’ll need to answer questions about your income and savings. Make sure you have:

  • your National Insurance number - you can find your National Insurance number or apply for one on GOV.UK

  • your bank, building society or Post Office card account details

  • details of how much money you have coming in each week, such as from a pension

  • details of any savings and investments you have

  • your housing costs, such as rent or mortgage repayments

  • information about any benefit payments you receive

If you live with a partner you’ll need to give the Pension Service the same information about them.

You’ll also need to provide information of anyone else living with you such as details about any benefits they’re receiving. You won’t need to give detail about their income.

Claiming your Pension Credit

You can apply for Pension Credit online on GOV.UK. 

You can only apply online if:

  • you’ve already claimed your State Pension

  • you're not living with someone under 16 or between 16 and 19 in full-time education

Make sure you have the information you need before starting your online application. You’ll have to complete your application in one sitting - you won’t be able to save and come back to it later.

If you can’t apply online, you can claim by calling the Pension Service and telling them you want to claim Pension Credit.

Pension Credit claim line

Telephone: 0800 99 1234

Textphone: 0800 169 0133

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 99 1234

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).  

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Ask for your Pension Credit to be backdated when you apply.

Pension Credit can be backdated for up to 3 months before you apply if you were eligible during that time. This means you'll get up to 3 months of Pension Credit included in your first payment.

If the Pension Service have all the information they need they can sometimes make a decision on your claim and put payments in place straight away. If they need more information they’ll send you a form to fill in.

If you need to give the Pension Service more information

Sometimes the Pension Service will need more information to make a decision about your claim. For example, they might ask for proof of identity or for more details about your income.

You’ll need to send what they’ve asked for within a month of being asked for it. If you need more time, you’ll need to contact the Pension Service and explain why.

It can sometimes be difficult to gather the extra information - contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help.

If you find it difficult to call

A friend or relative can call for you. They can go through your application on the phone or ask the Pension Service to arrange a home visit if you need it.

If they’re going through your application on the phone you must be with them when they call to make sure they answer things correctly.

You can also claim by completing a form. A friend or relative should call the Pension Credit claim line and ask them to send you the form.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help applying.

Being paid your Pension Credit

If you’re eligible for Pension Credit you’ll get a letter after you apply saying how much you’ll get and when you’ll be paid.

Pension Credit is paid every four weeks into your bank, building society or Post Office card account.  

If you don't have a bank account

You can be paid using the Payment Exception Service if you have difficulty opening or managing a suitable account. 

Extra money and help Pension Credit entitles you to

If you claim Pension Credit, you might be able to get help with:

If your partner is under State Pension age and you’re receiving Guarantee Credit, they’ll also get free prescriptions.

If you don't have enough money to live on, you might also be able to get help to afford essentials like bills, health costs and food.

Ask the Pension Service to explain all of the extra benefits to you when you apply.

Interest payments on your mortgage

You might also get help with Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) - this is help towards interest payments on either:

  •  your mortgage

  •  loans you’ve taken out to pay for certain repairs and improvements to your home

Check if you can get SMI for your loan.

Heating costs

If you get Pension Credit, you’ll also get a Cold Weather Payment when it's very cold. This is a one-off payment to help pay for extra heating costs. It’s paid automatically.

You’ll get Cold Weather Payments between 1 November and 31 March. You'll get a payment each time the average temperature in your area drops below zero degrees Celsius for 7 days in a row.

Interest-free loans

Anyone on Pension Credit can apply for a Budgeting Loan which can help with things like travel costs or funeral payments. Find out more about Budgeting Loans on GOV.UK.

Free TV licence

You might be able to get a free TV licence if the person who pays for your TV licence: 

  • is 75 years old or older

  • gets Pension Credit

  • lives with you

Apply for a TV licence on the TV Licensing website.

Cost of Living Payments

The government sent the last Cost of Living payment of £299 during spring 2024. They haven’t announced any more payments. 

You should have got the Cost of Living payment of £299 between 6 and 22 February 2024. To get the payment you must have been entitled to a Pension Credit payment between 13 November and 12 December 2023.

If you didn’t get the last payment

If you think you should have received a Cost of Living Payment, you can report a missing payment on GOV.UK.

If you want to challenge a Pension Credit decision 

You can challenge the decision on your claim if:

  • you’re told you can’t get Pension Credit

  • you don’t think you’ve received enough Pension Credit

Find out how you can challenge a decision

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Page last reviewed on 10 December 2018