Welfare reform may affect benefits

OLDER people in Banbridge must ensure that they claim their rightful benefits before major changes take place to the benefits system as a result of the Welfare Reform Bill in Northern Ireland.

Jacqui Corscadden, Head of Services at Age NI, said, “The main impact of the Bill on older people will be that both members of a couple must be over pension age to be eligible for Pension Credit.

“If one person is under Pension Credit age, the couple will have to claim the new Universal Credit which will be introduced on 1 October 2013. Any couples currently receiving Pension Credit will continue to do so.

“At the moment there is no limit to the amount of savings someone can have in order to receive Pension Credit. However, there are proposed plans to introduce a savings limit although the amount is yet to be confirmed. Age NI would urge people to apply for Pension Credit before these changes take place.

She continued, “Another confirmed change for anyone receiving help with their rent is that housing benefit will be replaced by a new housing credit. There are also confirmed changes to the Social Fund. Please note there are no planned changes for anyone aged over 65 in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance.”

If you are concerned about these changes and how they may effect you or someone you know or to find out more information about a type of benefit and how to claim, please contact the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 and speak to an experienced advisor in confidence.