TIP: Many mixed age couples have options – if you are a mixed age couple and you are already getting any of the benefits Universal Credit is replacing you may be better off staying on the old benefit system if you can – seek advice before making a claim for Universal Credit.
What is a Mixed Age Couple?
A mixed age couple is where one member of a couple is working age, and the other is State Pension age.
Your State Pension age is the earliest age you can start receiving your State Pension. It may be different to the age you can get a workplace or personal pension.
At the moment, someone reaches the State Pension age on their 66th birthday
Ian is 68 years old and receives a state pension. His wife, Pearl, is 64 years old and so has not reached pension age yet so she is considered to be working age. This means that they are a mixed age couple.
Change to the benefits Mixed Age Couples can claim
Before 15th May 2019 mixed age couples who needed extra financial support were able to make new claims for Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit.
However, on 15th May 2019 the rules changed.
Most mixed age couples are now unable to make a new claim for Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit and have to claim Universal Credit instead.
However, a mixed age couple that is already getting Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit (under the pension age regulations), and remains entitled to it, can stay on Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit.
A mixed age couple that is on Pension Credit can usually make a new claim for Housing Benefit. And a mixed age couple that is on Housing Benefit (under the pension age regulations) can usually make a new claim for Pension Credit.
Lai (age 69) and Jacky (age 64) have been married for 20 years. They are currently living with family. They are moving into a rented one bedroom flat. They currently get Pension Credit to top up Lai’s State Pension. As they are already getting Pension Credit, that was in payment to them as a mixed age couple and has been continuously so since 14th May 2019, they can make a new claim for Housing Benefit to help them pay their rent.
Ruth (age 69) and Jim (age 64) live in a two bedroom rented house. Jim works part time and Ruth gets a State Pension and a small amount of Housing Benefit. Jim is having to give up his job due to health problems. As they are already getting Housing Benefit (under the pension age regulations) that was in payment to them as a mixed age couple and has been continuously so since 14th May 2019, they can make a new claim for Pension Credit to top up Ruth’s pension.
William (68) and Audrey (62) live in a one bedroom flat. Audrey has been working but is being laid off at the end of the month. She will be able to get New-Style Jobseekers Allowance based on her NI contributions, but this will only be paid for 6 months. Their only income will then be William’s State Pension. As they are not receiving any means-tested benefits, their only option will be to claim Universal Credit.
IMPORTANT: Pension Credit is more generous than Universal Credit. There can be a big difference between the amount of benefit you would receive through Pension Credit and Housing Benefit compared with how much Universal Credit you would be entitled to receive. So it is important that mixed age couples get advice before claiming Universal Credit to make sure this is their best option.