Mixed Age Couples: Changes to Pension Credit and Housing Benefit

joannemoores Jun 4th, 2019

New rules came into effect this month for couples who are treated as ‘mixed-age’ under benefit regulations. Mixed age couples include one member who is above State Pension Age and the other member who is below. Currently, only those born before 5th February 1954 have reached State Pension Age.

Until the rule change it had been possible for a mixed age couple to make a claim for Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit where one of them had reached the qualifying age. Under the new rules introduced on 15th May 2019, new claims for Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit will only be possible where both members of a couple have reached State Pension Age.

The option to change the rules for mixed-age couples was included in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, however it was generally expected that the change would not be implemented until the introduction of Universal Credit was complete. The government announcement in January 2019 that the change would occur in May 2019 was therefore an unwelcome surprise and will cause difficulties for many couples.

Mixed age couples will have to wait before they can access the more generous pension age benefit system.In the meantime they will remain within the working age benefit system and subject to any associated conditionality.

Existing claimants of Pension Credit, or housing age Housing Benefit, will not be affected and their awards will continue. However, if there is a change of circumstance that ends the current award, the new rules would apply to any subsequent claim they make.

New claims for Pension Credit can still be made by a mixed age couple who have a current award of pension age Housing Benefit and vice versa.

Claims for Pension Credit and pension age Housing Benefit can be backdated by up to three months therefore it is well worth all mixed age couples checking their potential for entitlement to either of these benefits before the 14th August 2019 deadline.