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Benefits in retirement

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.

 

State Pension

The State Pension gives you a regular taxable income for the rest of your life – as soon as you reach State Pension age.

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.

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Pension Credit

Pension Credit is for people who are on a low income. It’s 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 qualify – and don’t miss out if you are.

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Help with Council Tax

Whether you own your home or rent, you could qualify for support from your local authority (or the Welsh and Scottish Governments) to help you pay your Council Tax.

Contact your local council to ask about support with Council Tax.

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Help with Rates in Northern Ireland

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’re on a low income, you might be entitled to rate relief. There are also allowances for lone pensioners (people living alone aged 70 or over) and disabled people.

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Help with heating costs

Winter Fuel Payment

This is a tax-free payment of up to £300 to help people born on or before 5 October 1954 keep warm during winter. Some people call it the winter fuel allowance. The deadline for claiming the winter 2020/21 payment was 31 March 2021.

The amount you get depends on your age and who lives in your household.

If you’ve had the payment before, you should get it again without having to claim.

You should also get it automatically if you meet the age and residence criteria, and get any of the wide range of government benefits. These include:

  • State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance.

If you qualify, you’ll get 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 get the letter – for most people this will be in November or December– the Winter Fuel Payment will be paid into your chosen bank account.

The payment reference on your bank statement will be ‘DWP Winter Fuel’.

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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 qualify for any of a range of other income-related benefits, including Pension Credit, you’ll qualify for Cold Weather Payments.

There’s no need to apply for it. If you qualify, it will be paid automatically.

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Warm Homes Discount scheme

Certain people on a low income and getting means-tested benefits can get a deduction from their winter electricity bill through the Warm Homes Discount scheme. In 2021/22, the discount is worth £140.

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The scheme doesn’t 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 many schemes that install insulation and heating improvements to make your home more energy efficient.

You’re likely to qualify 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.

The websites below have more information:

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You might also be able to apply for a grant to make your home more energy efficient. 

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Health benefits

In England, everyone aged over 60 gets free prescriptions and eye tests.

You might also qualify for help towards:

  • dental treatment
  • travel costs to hospital
  • glasses or contact lenses.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, everyone is entitled to free prescriptions.

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Disability and care benefits

There are benefits for people who have disabilities, or specific care needs.

These benefits include Disability Living Allowance, which is gradually being replaced by Personal Independence Payment if you’re under State Pension age and Attendance Allowance if you’re over State Pension age.

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, you qualify when you reach the female State Pension age.

If you live in a London borough and are over 60, you qualify for a free travel Oyster photocard.

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Travel concessions

If you’re over 60 or disabled, find out about the travel concessions below.

Free passport

If you were born on or before 2 September 1929 and are a British national, you could qualify for a free passport.

You’ll need a full ten-year passport if you want to travel abroad, even if it’s for just a day.

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Free TV licence

You now have to pay for your TV licence unless you’re getting some means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit. 

There are still some over-75s who can get theirs for free or at a reduced rate.

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Benefits for war widows or widowers

If your husband, wife or civil partner died or were injured or became ill as a result of their service in Her Majesty’s (HM) Armed Forces, or during a time of war before 06 April 2005, then you might be entitled to a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension. 

If they died or sustained an injury or illness due to serving in a conflict after 06 April 2005, you might be entitled to compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. 

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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.

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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.

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Use an online benefit calculator

Using the 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 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 things such as rent, mortgage or childcare payments.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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