Saturday, November 14, 2009

Over 60's Benefit Entitlement

Over 60s benefit entitlement ‘as simple as a2b’

I am concerned that every week thousands of people over 60 in Northern Ireland miss out on their share of unclaimed benefits and urged older people to visit the Access to Benefits website and find out what you may be entitled to receive.

The A2B website is an invaluable tool for working out what people should be getting, in terms of benefits. Even if you aren’t computer literate, ask a trusted family member or friend to help you out.

It is a very simple process that could make a world of difference to the lives of thousands of pensioners. At least £50 million per year goes unclaimed by over 60s in Pension Credit alone in Northern Ireland.

This is an innovative not-for-profit service which works by asking you to answer a series of simple and anonymous questions, which will allow the website to calculate what you’re entitled to receive.

One of the major barriers to benefit uptake for older people is the sheer size and complexity of the benefits system. However, there is also the issue of stigma. I would emphasise to all over 60s that, having worked all your life and contributed to the ‘pot’, the uptake of benefits is a right – not a matter of charity.

In light of the current financial crisis and the sharp increases in electricity and fuel costs the pressures on people who are threatened by poverty is brought into sharp focus. Fuel poverty is a much greater problem in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the United Kingdom with 24 per cent of households unable to heat their homes to an adequate standard. That is why Access to Benefits is so important.

Ensuring that older people gain access to their full entitlements may be crucial this winter. The A2B site provides details of organisations which deliver benefits and provide advice and information about benefits and it contains links to claim forms on other websites. The benefit calculation is completely anonymous and all data is held securely.

Visit the website for further information, and to calculate your entitlement –