The change to the Pension Credit rules was legislated for in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The Government announced on 14 January that the mixed age couple policy change will come into force on 15 May. Following that announcement, we have implemented comprehensive plans to raise awareness of the change among people who may be affected.
The Department has written directly to mixed age couples who are already in receipt of Pension Credit or Housing Benefit for pensioners to ensure they know about the change and how they could be affected if their circumstances change on or after 15 May. Importantly, the letters explained that the change will not apply to mixed age couples already claiming Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit for pensioners at the point of change for as long as they remain entitled to either benefit.
This was in addition to providing information on GOV.UK and through existing departmental channels. The Department’s staff in Pension Centres and Jobcentres including visiting officers are able to provide information about the change, as are staff in Local Authorities who administer Housing Benefit. The Department has also worked with relevant organisations such as Age UK and Citizens Advice, including providing them with a fact sheet to ensure that accurate information is available in the places where people are most likely to seek it.
Anyone who would be eligible for the pension age benefits under the previous rules but have not claimed before 15 May will have up to 13 August to make a backdated claim to 14 May and we encourage them to do so.