Just Retirement has urged property-owning pensioners to check their eligibility for state benefits as many are missing out on hundreds of pounds a year in extra income.
Research from Just Retirement Solutions, the advice arm of Just Retirement Group has revealed more than half of customers seeking advice on equity release were failing to claim state benefits, with many homeowners in poverty.
"The figures provide more compelling evidence of a 'squeezed middle' who are finding it hard to make ends meet," said Stephen Lowe, group external affairs and customer insight director.
The research found:
- 20% were failing to claim any benefit, up from 18% in 2010
- On average these people are losing £872 a year, with the biggest loss at £8,766
- 34% are receiving some but not all of their benefits, up from 26% in 2010
- On average these people are losing £676 a year, with the biggest loss at £1,408
Lowe said it was concerning many pensioners find they have missed out at the point of seeking financial advice as they can no longer make ends meet.
The research revealed a growing trend for pensioners using property assets to generate income for day to day living rather than for one off purchases. However, they should check they are claiming their full benefits to supplement their income.
Lowe added: "It may be tempting to blame this on today's low savings and pensions returns or high pensioner inflation, but the reality is that more people are retiring on pension funds that are simply too small to sustain them."
He said all pensioners should seek professional help and should not assume they know enough to navigate the benefits system on their own. The Department for Work and Pensions released figures showing a third of those entitled to Pension Credits fail to claim - with 78% owning property.
The total income lost is between £2 billion and £2.8 billion a year.