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Unclaimed pension benefits could boost retirement income

07 September 2009 / by Andy Davies

New research suggests that the average pensioner is missing out £232 per year in unclaimed state benefits.

Just Retirement Solutions, who compiled the findings, found that one in four pensioners admitted to not knowing about state benefit entitlements which could boost their retirement income.

The equity release specialist found that 24 per cent of pensioners surveyed who are eligible for benefits are not claiming, while a further three per cent of pensioners are not claiming enough.

Nigel Barlow, head of research at Just Retirement, believes the lack of awareness amongst pensioners is mainly a result of information not being made available or easy to follow, which he says needs to be changed.

He said: "Pensioners can considerably bolster their income by getting to grips with their entitlements which can be equivalent to getting almost one month's state pension extra per month. This would not only provide a welcome relief to those less well off but ensure that pensioners receive what is rightfully due to them.

"Our experience in this area is further support for the view of organisations, such as Age UK, and the report of the Work and Pensions Committee on Tackling Pensioner Poverty, that access to state benefits needs to be made much simpler."

Commenting on the findings, Andrea Rozario, director general of SHIP Equity Release, says it is disturbing that state benefit entitlement is poorly understood, but believes it highlights the importance of obtaining thorough advice from a property qualified source if pensioners are considering equity release.

She said: "The advice service should include a review of the state benefits for customers, to ensure they make the most of what they have.  This is why all SHIP members will only deal with advisers who are specifically qualified in equity release and have taken their clients through a fully advised process."

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