MILLIONS of people are getting extra cash to help in the cost of living crisis.
The first half of the £650 cost of living payment is hitting bank accounts for most people before the end of the month.
Those on Universal Credit and certain other means-tested benefits are among the 8million people eligible for the help.
But nearly one million people could be missing out on the cash – and need to act fast to get it.
You can't claim the cost of living payments directly.
But you can still make a claim for one of the qualifying benefits – Pension Credit – that could then automatically get you the extra £650 cash.
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Pension Credit is for pensioners on low incomes and tops up their state pension.
A benefits expert has explained how a "loophole" in the rules could give those in retirement the the cash boost.
Phil Agulnik is director at entitledto, an organisation helping people claim the full benefits they qualify for.
He said: "It’s not too late for some older people to get both parts of the £650 payment, even if they don’t already claim Pension Credit.
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"The rules say that anyone who was entitled to Pension Credit on the qualifying day of May 25 can get both parts of the cost of living payment as long as they apply before August 18 this year.
"This is because you can ask for a Pension Credit claim to be backdated for up to three months."
To qualify for the first lot of the cost of living cash worth £326, you need to have been claiming the eligible benefits between April 26 and May 25.
Exact date to claim
If you apply now for Pension Credit and successfully get it backdated, it would put you within the qualifying dates.
And any claim up to August 18 will too.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told The Sun that claims should be made by this date to ensure they can be processed before the three month backdating deadline of August 25.
It's also worth noting that as the payments are coming in two instalments, if you don't get the first you could still get the second.
Phil said: "If you become eligible after May 25, for example, due to your age or your circumstances have changes since this date, you will receive part two of the cost of living payment.
"You will also receive part two of the cost of living payment if you start your claim after August 18, but this could mean missing out on a potential £326.
"Our message to people is – don’t delay check today!"
The second part of the £650 cost of living payment will be paid in Autumn, with an exact date not yet confirmed.
There will also be a second qualifying period for this payment, which is also yet to be announced.
More pensioner perks
It's not just the £650 cost of living payment you can get either, Phil explains.
"It's a tragedy so many pensioners don't realise they could be topping up their income by claiming Pension Credit.
"1.4million claim this benefit for people who are on a low income and have reached pension age but shockingly almost a million more could be claiming but aren’t.
"And it’s no small change. Average payments are around £3,000 a year, with some getting more and some getting less."
"If this is you, or someone you might know, now’s the time to check if you’re entitled as receiving Pension Credit also means you’re eligible for extra help during the cost of living crisis."
As well as being worth thousands of pounds a year for some people, Pension Credit gives you access to loads of other perks too.
Phil said: "Receiving Pension Credit not only gives you a boost to your weekly income and the extra cost of living payment, you could also get a range of other benefits.
"This includes a free TV licence if you’re also over 75, cold weather payments during very cold winters and potential help with housing costs if you rent."
One pensioner was left "gobsmacked" after finding out she was entitled to thousands of pounds a year from pension credit.
How to make a claim for Pension Credit
It couldn't be easier to make a claim for Pension Credit – and there are handy tools to help.
Phil said: "You can check if you’re eligible for Pension Credit, as well as the other benefits, by using our benefits calculator at entitledto.co.uk.
"Or you can get in touch with the Pension Credit claim line online or by phone."
You can apply online at gov.uk and will need some information to hand
This includes National Insurance number, details of your income including pensions, plus any savings and investments you have, covering the past three months.
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You can apply by phone by calling 0800 99 1234 or by post by printing out the online form from gov.uk, filling it in and sending to: The Pension Service 8, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton, WV99 1AN
You can also get help applying from organisations like Citizens Advice and Age UK.
Cost of living payments: what you need to know
- All the key dates for cost of living payments revealed
- Every household will get a £400 cost of living payment to help with energy bills
- See the full list of benefits eligible for £650 cost of living cash
- Here's free cash you can get if you DON’T qualify for the £650 cost of living payment
- Millions of pensioners will get a £300 cost of living payment this winter
- Disabled Brits will get £150 this September
- Parents can get up to £200 towards school uniform costs
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