STRUGGLING households are missing out on millions of pounds in unclaimed support that could boost their income.
An estimated £15billion worth of benefits are going unclaimed including child benefit and pension credit.
Millions of households are thought to be missing out on the cash, according to estimates by EntitledTo.
Anna Stevenson from the charity Turn2Us told BBC's Rip Off Britain said that some people could be missing out on thousands of pounds a year.
The senior welfare benefits specialist said Pension Credit, Universal Credit and Council Tax Support, are among some of the most underclaimed benefits.
She said: "People do not always know where to look, or people just think benefits aren't for them.
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"There is a stigma that has been attached to claiming benefits but over the past few years, we have really seen that stigma diminish because we know that those welfare systems are in place to help us when we are in need."
Pension credit is designed to boost your income if you're over the state pension age and on a low income.
While Universal Credit is designed to combine a number of old "legacy benefits" into a single monthly payment.
Council Tax support comes from local authorities and ranges form a discount on your bill, to paying nothing altogether depending on your circumstances.
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If you think that you are eligible for benefits, there are simple calculators you van use to find out. We explain all below.
How to check what benefits you could get
Benefits are not just for those out of work and millions of people in work get Universal Credit to top up their income.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
If you run out of time to complete the form in one go you can save your results and come back later but you will need to sign in or register.
You can do this using Facebook, Google or by setting up an Entitledto account.
If you don't want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.
Instead, you're provided with a unique code to note down and use when you want to revisit the questionnaire.
You will also find benefit calculators from Turn2Us and Policy in Practice.
Any calculator you use will give you an idea of what you could get, but you'll then have to make a claim for the benefit itself.
Can I get benefits backdated?
It is possible to get some benefits backdated if you found out you’ve missed out on claiming for them.
But it depends on which benefit you’re making a claim for, as different benefits have different rules for back payment.
For example, new claims for Universal Credit, income support and housing benefit can be backdated for a maximum of one month.
You can get child benefit, pension credit backdated for up to three months.
But in most cases, you’ll have to provide evidence to show a good reason why you were not able to make a claim earlier.
This could be because:
- You have a disability
- You’re unwell
- The online claims system was down
- You’re making a new claim after breaking up with your partner
You can apply to backdate your benefit payments when applying for the benefit.
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How to do this will vary depending on which benefit you’re claiming for, so it’s worth checking in for more information from the government before putting in your application.
You can request your benefits to be backdated by writing to the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC or your local council.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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