This week, as part of the Age NI and Larne Times campaign to increase benefit uptake for older people, we’ll highlight how easy it is to take that first step to claiming what you’re entitled to.
The Age NI Advice and Advocacy Service is a free service that offers independent and confidential support to older people, their families and carers on a range of issues from benefits and community care to residential care, housing and health.
Older people across Northern Ireland are in need of support. Since December 2012 alone, the advice team has received 3,100 calls and helped to identify over £250,000 in unclaimed benefits for older people who picked up the phone for a free benefit check.
Last week, we told you that £200 million is going unclaimed in benefits by older people in Northern Ireland. With 29 per cent of older people in Larne living in poverty*,
Age NI, in partnership with the Larne Times, would like to urge older people, their family and carers to call the Age NI advice line so that this money is in their pockets instead. A successful benefit check could, on average, provide up to £62 per week in additional financial support to an older person.
The vice-chair of Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) is Jean Haveron, aged 72 from Larne.
She said: “I spoke to an Age NI advisor recently for a free benefits check and I’m so pleased I did. During our chat, I was asked to provide details which I didn’t have to hand. However, the advisor was so patient and gave me the time to get what I needed. She called me right back.
Jean continued: “I’d advise people who are reluctant to call, or are concerned about giving out their information, to do so as it will help you in the long run – just like it did for me! I ended up getting another allowance that I didn’t know I was entitled to. If you don’t wish to pick up the phone yourself, ask another member of the family to do it for you. The advisors are more than happy to help.”
Mark Miller, AES NI Country Manager, said: “AES is delighted to add support to the Age NI campaign in the Carrick, Larne and Newtownabbey area. The work Age NI do locally is very important to us and can have real impact on our community. This campaign aims to target pensioner poverty and help put more money into the pockets of older people by making them aware of the benefits they are missing out on.”
If you or someone you know would like to have a free benefits check, call the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 and speak to a trained advisor in confidence.
*NIAO Benefit Uptake Report, DSD, Households Below Average Income, NI, 2008-09 (combined figures with Moyle due to sample sizes)