A Mansfield couple have slammed changes to Pension Credit which will leave them £7,000 a year worse off.
As of May 15 pensioners with younger partners will be ineligible for Pension Credit.
This has left so-called mixed-age couples – where one person is above state pension age and the other is below – unable to claim the benefit.
Instead they will have to claim Universal Credit, which is worth hundreds of pounds less a month.
They will not be able to apply for Pension Credit until the younger partner reaches state pension age.
Douglas Goodwin of Ladybrook is 64 years old and next year qualifies for his state pension.
However his wife Jill is eight years his junior. The couple have been married 27 years and have four children.
He said: “My wife is eight years younger than me and I won’t be able to claim my full pension until she reaches retirement age.
“It is ridiculous.
“I have paid National Insurance and tax all my life. I have worked through illnesses so I would get a full pension and and never claimed anything
Now the Government is saying you can’t get Universal Credits and so I will get next to nothing until I am well into my 70s.
“I might be dead by then.
“But if I divorce her tomorrow I would get the full amount.
“Anyone who is already claiming it up to the 15th will still get it. That’s discrimination.
“They have slipped this in with all this Brexit stuff going on. I want to make more people aware of what is happening.”
Mr Goodwin estimates it will cost him £7-8,000 a year on his entitlements.
He added: ”I was looking forward to retiring.
“I cashed my other pensions in when I was 55 but now I will only get half of what I was expecting.
Charities have warned pensioners could be pushed into poverty by the changes.
A third of pensioners with younger partners could lose out on £35,000 as a result it has been revealed.
The Government has decided to cut Pension Credit “without fully understanding the impact on older people’s lives,” according to Age UK, which released the figures to coincide with its Behind the Headlines report.
In 2019/20, out of the 15,000 affected by the reform, 4,650 mixed-age couples will lose out on £35,000 as a result of having to wait at least five years for their younger partner to reach state pension age, according to Age UK estimations.
By 2023/24, 60,000 couples will be affected by the changes with 18,600 facing a five-year wait for Pension Credit.
More than one in 12 couples with an age gap of 10 years or more face losing as much as £70,000 if the younger partner is unable to find paid work in the time before they reach the state pension age, according to the charity’s analysis.
Age UK previously calculated that mixed-age couples will lose out on £7,000 a year because of the changes. It has warned the reform threatens to push pensioners further into poverty, leaving them struggling to pay their bills or for their care needs.
‘Mean-spirited policy change’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, called the reform a “mean-spirited policy change,” adding that Pension Credit was a “life-changing benefit” for some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people.
“It’s not at all unusual for one partner to be older than the other, so lots of older couples on low incomes could be affected by this policy change without even knowing it yet. There is no doubt in our minds that many unsuspecting pensioners will face a heavy financial penalty for having a younger partner and this will undoubtedly affect the health and wellbeing of many of those couples,” she said.
“Not everyone is able to carry on working until their state pension age, not least because many of those in the most deprived areas in the UK are in ill health long before they can officially retire. We are deeply concerned that benefits designed to support exactly these type of people are being abolished without fully understanding the impact on older people’s lives.”
A Mixed-age couples already claiming Pension Credit will not be affected by the changes.
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “This change was voted on by Parliament in 2012 and means, for new claims from 15 May, only pensioners can claim Pension Credit. If one partner is of working age we believe it’s fair that the same incentives to work and save for retirement apply as they do for other people of the same age.
“We have updated online guidance and written to all eligible mixed age couples to make them aware of the changes, which won’t affect them unless their circumstances change.”