The chief executive of Age Scotland has issued an urgent alert for Falkirk couples ahead of a crucial tax deadline on Tuesday.
The charity’ s Helpline has been inundated with hundreds of calls as older people put in last-minute benefit claims before the so-called “toy boy tax” comes into force.
Couples affected by the controversial tax could lose up to £11,000 in Pension Credit if they fail to apply by midnight on Tuesday.
The Department of Work and Pensions announced earlier this year it would axe the benefit for “mixed age couples” – where one partner is still working age.
Although the change came into effect in May, couples have until Tuesday to put in a backdated claim.
Age Scotland warns that if they miss the deadline they will have to claim Universal Credit instead, leaving them on average £7000 a year worse off.
Pension Credit tops up weekly income for couples receiving less than £255 a week, or single pensioners receiving less than £167.
Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan said: “We have never seen anything like it. Our Helpline team has been working flat out to ensure they help as many older people as possible.
“The ‘toy boy tax’ is completely unfair and will hit the poorest pensioners hardest.
“Older people who are struggling to get by could miss out on up to £11,000 a year, simply because they have a younger partner. This will have a devastating impact on those who need it most, pushing more into poverty.
“Not only will they miss out on Pension Credit, but they will also lose associated benefits such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax reductions, and from next year, the free over-75s’ TV licence.
“This is money they should be entitled to – they have worked hard and contributed all their lives, and should be able to enjoy their retirement in dignity.
“Pension Credit is already shockingly under-claimed, with more than £330 million returned to the Treasury from Scotland every year.
“We are continuing to urge the Department of Work and Pensions to think again and do the right thing for all older people.
“But if you, or a family member, think there is even a slight chance you are entitled to Pension Credit, then we’d urge you to call our Helpline before midnight on Tuesday.
“It could be your last chance to claim thousands of pounds and make a huge difference to your standard of living.“
Age Scotland’s free Helpline offers benefit checks and other advice every weekday, between 9am and 5pm, on 0800 12 44 22