Benefits in retirement

Up to 1.6 million pensioners are living in poverty, according to Age UK. But many are failing to claim the benefits they’re entitled to. Don’t miss out on your money – here’s a list of benefits you could potentially claim and how to find out if you’re eligible.

State Pension

The State Pension gives you a regular taxable income for the rest of your life. It’s not means-tested, but the amount you get depends on how many qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits you’ve built up. There are two parts to the State Pension – basic and additional.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is for people who are on a low income and is designed to top up a pensioner’s income to a guaranteed minimum level. Many people entitled to Pension Credit don’t claim it, so make sure you find out whether you’re eligible and don’t miss out if you are.

Help with Council Tax

Whether you own your home or rent, you could be eligible for support from your local authority (or the Welsh and Scottish Governments) to help you pay your Council Tax (Council Tax Benefit was abolished on 1 April 2013, but pensioners should find they qualify for the same amount of support locally.)

Help with heating costs

Winter Fuel Payment

This is a tax-free payment to help people born on or before 5 January 1953 keep warm during winter. The amount paid depends on your age and who lives in your household.

If you’ve received the payment in previous years, you should receive it again without having to claim. You should also receive it automatically if you meet the age and residence criteria and receive any of a wide range of government benefits including: State Pension, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

If you need to claim, phone the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on Tel 0845 915 1515.

Cold Weather Payment

These £25 payments are made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March each year.

If you’re eligible for any of a range of other income-related benefits, including Pension Credit, you’ll be eligible for Cold Weather Payments. There’s no need to apply for it, if you’re eligible, it will be paid automatically. To find out more go to gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.

Warm Homes Discount scheme

If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you’ll qualify for £140 off your electricity bill in winter 2015/16, as long as your electricity supplier is part of the scheme.

Most people don’t need to apply – your electricity supplier will automatically deduct the amount from your bill. If you have a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meter, you’ll still get the discount – your supplier will tell you how to get it.

Even if you don’t automatically qualify, you may still be able to get it if you’re on a low income. Ask your electricity provider for details.

The scheme does not apply in Northern Ireland as fuel poverty is devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, which decides its own fuel poverty objectives and policies.

Insulation and heating schemes

There are a number of schemes that install insulation and heating improvements to make your home more energy efficient. You’re likely to be eligible if your home is poorly insulated or doesn’t have a working central heating system, and if you receive any of a range of income-related benefits including Pension Credit.

Use the links below to find out more:

You can also contact Home Heat Helpline on Tel 0800 33 66 99 to check what help you may be entitled to, or for free advice on how to save energy.

Health benefits

Everyone aged over 60 gets free prescriptions and eye tests. You may also be eligible for help towards dental treatment‚ glasses or contact lenses and travel costs to hospital. In Northern Ireland, everyone is entitled to free prescriptions.

Disability and care benefits

A number of benefits are available to people who have disabilities, or who have specific care needs. These benefits include Disability Living Allowance (gradually being replaced by Personal Independence Payment) and Attendance Allowance.

Travel and TV benefits

Bus passes

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you qualify for a free bus pass when you’re 60 or over. In England, if you are a woman you can get one when you reach State Pension age. If you’re a man, you qualify when you reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day.

Free passport

If you were born on or before 2 September 1929 and are a British national, you could be eligible for a free passport. You will need a full ten-year passport if you want to travel abroad, even if it is for just a day.

Free TV licence

If you’re aged 75 or over, you also get a free TV licence.

Benefits for war pensioners and widows

If your husband, wife or civil partner died as a result of their service in Her Majesty’s (HM) Armed Forces, or during a time of war, then you may be entitled to a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension.

You can get a claim form from Veterans UK on Tel 0808 1914 218.

Use an online benefit calculator

Using an online benefit calculator on the GOV.UK website is a good way to:

  • check which benefits you may be entitled to
  • estimate the amounts you may be able to claim
  • see how the estimates would change if your circumstances changed

The tool will ask you for anonymous information about your savings and income, as well as your spending on key things such as rent, mortgage or childcare payments.

Use a benefit calculator on the GOV.UK website to find out what you may be entitled to.

You can also get free advice from Turn2Us – a charitable service that helps people access welfare benefits, grants and other support.