Up to 1.9 million pensioners are living in poverty, according to The Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 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.
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.
Adult Dependency Increase (ADI)
If you have a spouse or partner who is a dependent, you might be getting an additional payment added to you State Pension called the Adult Dependency Increase (ADI). However the payments will be ending from 5 April 2020.
If you are affected by this, you should have received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and a follow up letter in the Autumn of 2019.
This could result in a drop in income of between £41.90 and £70 a week, but you might be able to claim:
- Pension Credit – if you’re on a low income in retirement.
- Universal Credit – to help cover the costs of being a carer and housing.
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.
In Northern Ireland, there is a system of rates instead of council tax. Domestic rates for residential properties are based on the value of your home on 1 January 2005. Bills and payments are dealt with by the Land and Property Services (LPS) office.
If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to rate relief. There are also allowances for lone pensioners (people living alone aged 70 or over) and disabled people.
Help with heating costs
Winter Fuel Payment
This is a tax-free payment to help people born on or before 5 January 1954 keep warm during winter. Some people call it winter fuel allowance.
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’re eligible you will receive a letter in October confirming how much money you can expect to receive. The letter will also explain how you can update any incorrect information, such as your bank details.
Roughly three weeks after you receive the letter (for most this will be in November or December) you’ll receive the Winter Fuel Payment into your chosen bank account. The payment reference on your bank statement will be ‘DWP Winter Fuel’.
If you need to claim, phone the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on Tel 0800 731 0160.
Or contact the Northern Ireland Winter Fuel Payment Centre.
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.
Warm Homes Discount scheme
Certain people can get a £140 deduction from their winter electricity bill for 2019/20.
There are two ways to be eligible:
- If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and your supplier is part of the scheme, you will normally get this deduction automatically from your bill.
- If you’re on a low income, claim certain means-tested benefits and your supplier is part of the scheme you can also get this deduction. You should get in touch with your electricity supplier for details.
People on pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters can also get the discount, but you will need to talk to your supplier about how to get it.
If you get the Warm Homes Discount and you’re switching energy supplier, make sure your new supplier offers the discount. If they don’t, your bills could go up. You can find out more and check which suppliers offer the discount on the Ofgem and GOV.uk websites.
Find out more about the Warm Home Discount, if you qualify and the energy suppliers involved on GOV.uk
You can also find out more and check which suppliers offer the discount on the Ofgem website.
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:
Everyone aged over 60 gets free prescriptions and eye tests.
You might also be eligible for help towards:
- Dental treatment‚
- Travel costs to hospital, and
- Glasses or contact lenses
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
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’re a woman you can get one when you reach State Pension age.
If you’re a man, you qualify when you reach the State Pension age of a woman born on the same day.
If you live in a London borough and are over 60, you qualify for a free travel Oyster photocard.
If you are over 60 or disabled find out about travel concessions below.
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’re also eligible to get a free TV Licence.
From 1 August 2020, free TV licences will only be available to people over 75 who are also claiming Pension Credit. Household where only one person claims Pension Credit will still be eligible.
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 might 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.
Medical costs for war pensioners
If you need medical treatment because you were disabled while serving in the Armed Forces, you could get help towards your medical costs for your accepted disability.
War Disablement Pension
If you were injured or disabled while serving in the Armed Forces before 6 April 2005 you can get extra help towards your pension.
Use an online benefit calculator
Using an online benefit calculator on the GOV.UK website is a good way to:
- Check which benefits you might be entitled to
- Estimate the amounts you might be able to claim
- Show 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.
You can also get free benefits advice from Turn2Us – a charitable service that helps people access welfare benefits, grants and other support.