Thousands of Scots could lose up to £11,000 a year if they miss the deadline to claim Pension Credit, campaigners warned yesterday.
Rule changes coming into force on Wednesday mean couples with age gaps of up to 10 years can lose out as Universal Credit changes.
Pensioner campaign groups are warning that the loss could range from £7,000 to £11,000 a year.
And unless those eligible make a claim before the deadline, the benefit will be lost along with access to other funds such as cold weather payments, council tax reduction, and help with dental care and spectacles.
Age Scotland say as many as 40% of pensioners who are eligible have not been claiming Pension Credit.
And the losses to couples with an age difference, can make a huge difference.
The government announced the changes in January on the same day as the first meaningful Brexit vote and campaign groups fear eligible pensioners may not know about the deadline.
Age Scotland’s chief executive Brian Sloan said: “The stealthy cut was sneaked out when all eyes were on the Brexit vote.
“The average couple will lose around £19,000 before the younger one reaches State Pension age. But one in 10 couples has an age gap of 10 years or more – meaning a loss of more than £70,000.
“Although the rules changed in mid-May, couples can still put in a back-dated claim before next week’s deadline and will continue to receive the benefit.”
Mr Sloan said it was “heartbreaking” that 40% of older couples are not claiming, when so many are struggling.
He said: “Pensioners don’t claim, either because they’re not aware, find the process over-complicated, or are too proud to ask for help.
“They’re spending their golden years scrimping and worrying about the next bill. Many are putting their health at risk by not heating their homes adequately or eating a nutritious diet.
“The changes can mean couples – whether married or cohabiting – will be left in the absurd situation of being better off if they live separately.”