Pension Credit Injustice: Don’t punish pensioners because they have younger partners

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Sharon Haisman
Sharon Haisman signed this petition

I'm 65 and my wife, Julie, is 55. We’ve been married for 28 years. Both of us are disabled and help to care for each other. Right now we’re muddling through with the support of benefits and family.

I have just hit the state pension age. I had been hoping that we would be able to get Pension Credit (a benefit designed to help pensioners in need) but on 15 May 2019, the Government introduced a new policy that affected pensioners with younger partners. It means people like Julie and I are thousands of pounds worse off and might struggle to pay our bills.

We urgently need to speak out and make Government ministers change their minds to stop older people being put at risk. The change stops pensioners with younger partners from being able to claim Pension Credit. So-called “mixed-age couples” - where one person is above state pension age and the other is below - have to claim Universal Credit, which is a benefit for working age people and worth far less. Until both partners are of state pension age, they will not be eligible for Pension Credit.

Some mixed-age couples could be up to £7,000 a year worse off. Some could be waiting years for their partner to reach state pension age to gain access to the benefit.

The Government claims the reform will make the system more equal and ensure younger people are not getting a benefit designed for pensioners. Far from creating a fairer system, this sweeping reform will punish pensioners by denying them the benefit they are entitled to simply because they have fallen in love with someone who is younger than them.

The fact that my wife is 10 years younger than me is unfortunate. We were thinking about whether we needed to separate or get a divorce just to make sense of this new bureaucratic rule.

Last year I worked with the i paper to launch this petition. It calls on the Government to introduce a top-up payment for pensioners in mixed-age couples who will be unable to claim the Pension Credit they deserve as a result of the reform. Now that we have a new Parliament, I have no intention of backing down. I will keep campaigning to get pensioners like me the benefits we deserve.