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Three steps to checking your benefit entitlements

Rebecca Rutt
Out of money

Billions of pounds worth of benefits are left unclaimed each year, by pensioners in particular. You don’t have to be down and out to be able to claim some of the benefits available – here’s how you can ensure you don’t miss the boat.

1. What are you missing out on? It could be a lot. For example, up to £2.8 billion in pension credit – a benefit available to top-up a weekly pension – was not taken in the 2009/10 tax year, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Up to 620,000 people also failed to claim £2 billion in income support and employment and support allowance, equating to about £3,225 per person, while 3.2 million people missed out on up to £2.4 billion, £750 each, in council tax benefit.

2. Are you entitled to any benefits? There are lots of types of benefit available for people of all ages and fi nancial backgrounds – don’t just look for the most common ones.

For example, from April 2012, grandparents or other family members aged between 16 and state retirement age may be able to claim extra credits if they care for children under the age of 12.

3. How can you find out what you're entitled to? Check the website Alternatively, you can call its free confidential advice line on 0808 802 2000.

The benefits adviser tool on the Directgov website ( will also give you a list of what you could be claiming and how to do this. If you would prefer face-to-face advice, your local Citizens Advice Bureau can offer this – a list of local offi ces can be found at or by calling 020 7833 2181.

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