MILLIONS of households are being urged to check if they're eligible to get £900 in free cash.
The first instalment of the government's cost of living payment is being dished out to around eight million Brits.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told those in receipt of benefits like Pension Credit or tax credits check if they'll get the cash.
Writing on Twitter it said: "If you receive benefits such as Pension Credit or tax credits you may be eligible for up to £900 in Cost of Living Payments."
It explained that Brits looking to find out more should head over the government website.
To get the initial £301 payment you'll need to ensure you were getting the benefits within the qualifying period.
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The first sum is being sent out automatically between now and May 17 – you don't need to apply for it.
Instead if you're eligible you'll get the cash direct to your bank account.
While you can't backdate tax credits, those over 66 can actually backdate Pension Credit claims so they can still qualify for the first instalment.
A successful application made by May 19 can be backdated by up to three months.
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And because anyone who was entitled to the benefit between January 26 and February 25 gets the first payment, backdating means you can still get the cash – so it's worth checking if you're eligible.
Plus, you'll be eligible for the further instalments coming later this year – totalling at £900.
Latest estimates reveal that around 850,000 retirees are eligible for Pension Credit but haven't actually made a claim.
Plus, the average Pension Credit payment is worth over £3,500 a year, according to the DWP – so even on its own it's a vital boost for low-income retirees.
To find out more on how to apply for Pension Credit and to see if you qualify see our story.
The cost of living payment includes a further £300 payment for eligible families in autumn this year, and then a payment of £299 in spring 2024.
It means that people who signed up to Universal Credit after February and did not qualify for the first payment could be eligible for the other two payments.
That's because the qualifying dates will be different but they are yet to be announced by the government – we'll update you when we know more.
It's important to note that Universal Credit can only be backdated for one month and in very specific circumstances.
Below we explain how to check if you can get benefits, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit, plus more help available.
Check if you are entitled to benefits
A number of charities have benefits calculators that you can use to work out if you are entitled to any extra help.
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It's worth looking into, as if you do qualify, it could make you eligible for the remaining cost of living payments too.
Before you do use such a tool, you should make sure you have all the relevant paperwork to hand, including bank statements and any information on pensions and existing benefits.
You'll also have to give information about yourself, including your age and who you live with.
Remember though, the tools only give you an indication of what benefits you might be entitled to.
Other help if you miss out on the cash
The government recently extended the Household Support Fund until March 31, 2024.
The fund is a central pot of money that has been shared among councils in England.
They then decide how and who to distribute their allotment to, although help is usually offered to those on benefits or low incomes.
The money comes in different forms – some people receive vouchers while others receive cash via bank transfer.
Councils have started opening applications for the latest tranche of the fund so you should check with your local authority what you might be entitled to.
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If you don't know what council area you fall under, you can use the government's locator tool on its website.
Millions of pensioners will receive a £300 cost of living payment too, while those with disabilities will get a £150 payment.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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