The best things about being a pensioner

Rebecca Rutt
by Lovemoney Staff Rebecca Rutt on 28 September 2012  |  Comments 24 comments

When you become a pensioner, you're suddenly eligible for lots of benefits and discounts, so make sure you know what's available and don't miss out.

The best things about being a pensioner

Pensioners - and those approaching retirement - are getting a raw deal at the moment with a rock-bottom base rate, high inflation and Government plans to up the State Pension age.

However, one silver lining is all the benefits and discounts which become available to you once you hit the eligible age. Although there's talk of scrap some of them, right now they're still available so if you're not claiming them you need to act quickly. 

State Pension

Once you reach State Pension age, you can opt to start receiving a weekly sum. How much you get and when you start receiving it all depends on how long you’ve worked for in your life and how many years of National Insurance contributions you've made.

There’s a lot of change going on here at the moment, but right now the basic State Pension is £107.45 a week. The age when you can start claiming your pension is increasing to reach 66 for men and women by 2020. You can work out exactly when and how much you’ll get on this State Pension age calculator.

Specialist savings accounts

Trying to find a decent paying savings account can be tricky, but there are specific products which are only available for those aged over 50. Although these might not always be the most competitive, it’s worth a look as occasionally there are market-leaders in there.

Right now top of the table for instant access accounts is a 90-day notice account (The High Income Over 50 Notice) from the West Brom BS paying 2.80% with an initial deposit of £1,000. Second are two accounts from Saga, which both offer instant access and can be opened with £1, paying 2.75% and 2.40%.

Check out The best instant access savings accounts to see how they compare.

Winter fuel payments

As the weather gets colder, the winter fuel benefit kicks in as a way to help out older people through the coldest months of the year. It’s available to anyone born on or before 5th July 1951 and it’s not means tested so you can still get it if you’re working or claiming any other benefits.

The amount you can get depends on your personal circumstances. You can find out exactly what you're entitled to here but as a rule of thumb, if you live alone and were born on or before 5th July 1951 you’ll get £200, while if you’re aged 80 or over on 23rd September 2012 you’ll get £300. 

Free TV licence

When you reach the age of 75 you’ll no longer need to pay for your TV licence. To apply for one, you just need to call 0300 790 6131 and give your full name, date of birth and national insurance number. 

For those people aged 74, you can apply for a short-term licence which will last until your 75th birthday.

Free bus travel

As soon as you reach State Pension age you’re able to claim a free bus pass for use on any off-peak journeys across the country in England. This is valid between 9.30am and 11pm from Monday-Friday and all day on weekends and public holidays.

There are similar schemes available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

These can be applied for through your local council. And if you live in London you can get what’s known as the ‘Freedom Pass’ which allows free travel on the whole of the Transport for London network.

Cheap train travel

A senior railcard is available for those aged over 60 and it costs £28 a year. It gives one third off standard and first class fares and you can use it at any time apart from peak morning services.

Free passport

To get a new standard UK passport costs £72.50, but if you were born on or before 2nd September 1929 you qualify for a free one. This applies if it’s a new passport, or if you’re renewing an old one.

You can apply either online at the Identity and Passport Service, by calling the Passport Advice line on 0300 222 0000 or by visiting your local Post Office branch.

Christmas Bonus

Everyone likes getting something extra at Christmas and if you’re a pensioner you could be entitled to a one-off £10 tax-free payment also known as the ‘Christmas Bonus’.

To be in line for this extra cash you need to already be receiving a qualifying benefit such as, attendance allowance, disability living allowance, the State Pension or a widow or widower’s pension. You can find out if you’re eligible on the DirectGov website and the money is generally paid out before Christmas directly into your bank account.

Free NHS prescriptions

Instead of forking out £7.20 (in England) for a prescription, when you turn 60 you’ll get these and eye tests free. To qualify, you just need to fill in the declaration on the back of your prescription form when you go to pick up your medication. 

Discounted tickets

There are discounts available on nearly everything when you turn 60 including the cinema, theatre, art galleries and museums. The discount is usually 10-20% off the full price.

Not having to work anymore

Although this will probably split opinions, for many people being out of the nine-to-five daily grind of the office will be a massive benefit. If your finances allow it, you now have the time to enjoy retirement.

More from lovemoney.com:

How often should you review your pension?

Auto enrolment: the alternatives to NEST

No, you can't retire on £50,000

Become a pension expert in five days

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Comments (24)

  • MK22
    Love rating 169
    MK22 said

    I think you will find Bus Passes are available to the over 60s just like free prescriptions

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • redagila
    Love rating 0
    redagila said

    Worth checking with your local council if you want a Senior Railcard. Our one provides a voucher for this at a discounted cost, so even better value.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • meldrewreborn
    Love rating 70
    meldrewreborn said

    In London the freedom pass is available once you reach the retirement age if you have reached the retirement age of a woman born on the same day, so gradually the eligble age its moving up to age 65. I suspect that bus passes in other areas have similar rules.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • bobmattfran
    Love rating 59
    bobmattfran said

    Just one correction. the state pension is not a benefit, most pensioners paid both tax and insurance during their working lives.

    As for the saving schemes around, absolute nonsense, a lot of pensioners on state pension have savings of less than £200 so savings accounts are a complete joke.

    The writer has obviously not yet experienced having to pay rising basic bills on a fixed income!

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • cdsmith
    Love rating 4
    cdsmith said

    Two things: (1) many of the benefits apply only to older pensioners. As a 66-year-old I can only dream of getting a free TV licence.

    (2) however, nothing is said of the reduced rates or special offers available to seniors of all ages in all sorts of areas. Being old has its advantages.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    Pensioners can also get a guarantee credit element of pension credit. This winter many pensioners on that benefit will be eligible for a discount on their electric bill of £130 (inc VAT) as part of the warm home discount scheme. This could mean better health for many older people who will be able to keep warmer this winter.

    Details:

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/warmhome

    Other people such as the disabled can also apply. Details:

    http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/whds/whd_broader/whd_broader.aspx

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • fenemore
    Love rating 251
    fenemore said

    Althought the State Pension is calculated weekly, you do NOT receive it weekly, but every 4 weeks in arrears. It is also taxable but in its infinite wisdom, the Pensions Department do not have the means to collect the tax. It follows that if the State Pension is your ONLY income then your annual income will be below the tax threshold. If like me, you have a private pension, then you will have your tax code reduced in order to collect the tax owed on your State Pension.

    Also bear in mind that if you have made provision for your retirement then the government will claw back the age related tax allowance that you would otherwsie receive at 65. Isn't it wonderful, you do the "right thing" and thats all the thanks you get from HMG. Of course the feckless & irresponsible will get everything available - and probably more!

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • Raingold
    Love rating 1
    Raingold said

    I started work at 16, my retirement age is 66 so if you only have to pay NI for 30 years, why can't I have my pension sooner or opt out of paying after 30 years - my pension won't be any higher (likely to be worse than those able to top up with other benefits/tax credits) after 50 years of work. 2/3 of my NI will fund those who have never worked/contributed. I know we make choices in life, but I don't appreciate supporting those who expect a selfish lifestyle where they take, but don't give. What message does this give those just starting their careers? you can work until you drop or live off the state and be better off. I really think the pension age should be reduced and free up jobs for the younger generations before those that are keen to work become disillusioned and unmotivated to work.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Itoldem
    Love rating 19
    Itoldem said

    It is worth pointing out that the state pension will be worth a lot less in real terms from next April since pension increases are based on this month's inflation rate and we are having big increases in fuel prices over the winter plus the increase in fuel tax in January, not to mention other inevitable increases in costs. In a few years time only those with savings of about half a million or more will be able to afford to retire.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Megatyte
    Love rating 25
    Megatyte said

    Regarding the increase in pension ages, the successive Governments have put themselves somewhere between a rock and a hard place. It was deemed necessary to defer pension claims by moving the goalposts, because the pension pot was squandered before it even became a pot.

    The result of this is that there are now no new opportunities opening up for newcomers to the job market as the natural churn has been upset.

    School leavers are encouraged to further their education, no end of different schemes are implemented to manipulate the figures and minimise benefits to the unemployed (no fault of theirs, the jobs that they wanted are still being filled by the over 65's).

    One of the worlds biggest Ponzis has finally collapsed.

    If you or I had been running it we would have been looking at doing time.

    A H

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Aitken B
    Love rating 146
    Aitken B said

    In 1911 HMG (His/Her Majesty's Government) introduced National Insurance to pay for Illness and Unemployment Benefit. Each employee was compulsorily enrolled with no opt-out option. Later it was extended to provide retirement pensions. I am unsure if it was ever ring-fenced (perhaps another reader could tell us) but its name would suggest to the casual reader that it would be in the same way as a payment made to an insurance company.

    The reality is that successive HMGs merely used the money for their vanity projects and squandered it like any other TAX which is what it actually was.

    Not content with squandering our and our employers' National Insurance contributions, the voracious greed of the insatiable money wasting machine that is HMG turned to our private pensions and raided that as well.

    Even so we now discover that still there is insufficient money to pay each of us a decent retirement pension so HMG (Huge Money Gobbler) dream up yet another pension scheme for us and our employers to pay into. Call it Nat. Ins. II.

    Of course it is not compulsory – yet but I just wonder for how long that will be and how long it will take HMG to find a way to divert the cash into yet more of their hopeless pet “projects”.

    fenmore has it right - try to be self-sufficient and self-reliant and you get nothing. Spend all you can saving nothing for your retirement and you get barrow-loads of additional benefits.

    I am now retired but, given the experience so far, trusting yet more of your hard-earned cash in a scheme run or controlled by HMG would seem to me to be a high risk strategy.

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • mag52354
    Love rating 2
    mag52354 said

    And while we're all on about pensioners benefits,don't forget the wonderful way our government send out letters from the RECOVERY OF ESTATES team after the pensioner dies (within 2 months) wanting to know if they can claw back any over payments from the estate.

    Chances are the over payments will be paltry if the pensioner had claimed in the first place ...the majority of current old folk still having the attitude that they do not like asking for help...unlike many other sections of society who intentionally fiddle enormous amounts and get away with it .

    Report on 30 September 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • isobelsgrandma
    Love rating 41
    isobelsgrandma said

    @MK22, @meldrewreborn is right: the free bus pass for pensioners is not available until you reach the new retirement age of a woman. This applies to men as well as to women to allow for the current phasing in of equality in retirement age and not disadvantage men who would have previously received it at the age of 60 (as you thought).

    Report on 01 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • oldhenry
    Love rating 343
    oldhenry said

    You will never beat the overnment at robbing yo. Tha is how it has always been, except many years ago it was the King who taxed and robbed.

    Of course being a pensioner also means you are getting old and your health will be likley to fail , your joints get stiff, your heart gets dicky etc., etc.

    Getting your pension sounds good , but when you are at work you have more opprotunity to spend money , as I have found out.

    By some good stroke of deciosn I spent most of my working life in local governmnet and got promoted towards retirement age so I get around half my finaly salary as pension, this wil the basic state pension is reasonable indeed, but Osborne is after us. Linking pensions increases to his fraudulaent CPI when pensioners' costs increases are far higher than most peoples'.

    Report on 01 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • tuttogallo
    Love rating 99
    tuttogallo said

    The author has missed one big item which favours pensioners:

    If you leave work and go onto an occupational or state pension, you no longer have to pay national insurance, you only pay income tax. So a pensioner has a lower tax payment compared with a working person earning the same amount.

    This is yet another way in which the young are being impoverished in favour of older people. However, if the goverment corrects this (e.g by abolishing national insurnace payments and raising income tax), current pensioners are hit twice, having paid NI whilst in work and suffering higher tax on their pensions.

    Once again successive governments have painted themselves into a corner with over generous benefits payments, vanity projects and many other money wasting schemes, all with no thought for the long term financial health of the nation.

    Report on 01 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • MK22
    Love rating 169
    MK22 said

    Sorry about the Senior Bus Pass confusion, my local Council's web site is schizophrenic, talking about 60+ in one place and finally in a table on an appendix pointing out that currently you must be 61yrs and 3 months.

    I'm surprised oldhenry had more opportunities to spend money whilst at work. I've certainly had much more opportunity and, despite not having a massive pension, more spare cash to spend as well, since I retired.

    Report on 01 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Before you were born, the bankers operated a scam intended to rob all members of the general public. They removed all forms of money and replaced it with worthless notes which read "I promise to pay the bearer ..." with another worthless bank note. They then managed to do away with the government and replace it with a group of commercial companies which they own. They cunningly named these companies so that they look like a government. They took over the printing of the worthless bank notes with their private company called "The Bank of England" which is meant to sound like a government organisation (although it most definitely isn't it is a for profit company check companies house).

    The next step in their cunning plan, was to get their company which sounds like the government, to ask their other company "The Bank of England" to print them lots of (worthless) money and to charge interest on that money, over and above the face "value" of the currency. This excess interest amount is called the "National Debt" in order to fool ordinary people into believing that their country somehow owes somebody large amounts of money. Firstly, there is really nothing owed at all. Secondly, there IS no money. Thirdly, the country does not owe anything, and in the unlikely event that there were a genuine debt, then it has nothing to do with ordinary people as it is just a notional debt incurred by one commercial company to another commercial company (owned by the same people). This supposed debt has been boosted over the years to a ridiculous level which could never, ever be paid off, and you will no doubt be glad to learn that all income tax is now paid to the owners of these commercial companies. Isn't it great to be paying vast sums of money to a commercial company (The Governement which is also a commerical for profit business) which has never done anything for you and which holds you in utter contempt because you haven't discovered their scam and continue to pay lots of ridiculous taxes, fees and charges, none of which you need to pay at all. Combined, these charges amount to about 80% of a person's earned income - do you enjoy living on one fifth of what you actually earn?

    To strengthen their scam, they have invented a language of lies called "legal terminology" or "Legalese" where they have changed the meanings of ordinary English words in order to abuse and rob ordinary members of the public. They have set up a company called "The Law Society" to train up unscrupulous people in their methods of lies and deception. Their commercial company which pretends to be the government, keeps inventing new "statutes" which they pretend are laws (which they most definitely are not) and they keep telling everybody that they "must obey these laws", and they have subverted policeman and policewomen and convinced them that they have to enforce these statutes. The primary aim of these statutes is to take banknotes, goods and property from members of the public who have not yet discovered that it is a scam being run against them. Many police officers are probably themselves ignorant of the fact that statutes are purely optional and no human is actually bound by them.

    What you decide to do is entirely up to yourself. You can continue to give away most of your income to fund people who want to harm you, or you can decide to step outside this corrupt system, and stop paying these people. All humans are born equal, so there is nobody who has the right to order you around, unless you agree to give them that right. The choice is yours. (meetyourstrawman.com -interesting read)

    Report on 01 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • RodBryan
    Love rating 0
    RodBryan said

    Having turned 65 yesterday, I eagerly opened up this article to see what advantages would now be accessible by me. In common with many I cannot afford to stop working, and I find therefore that there is nothing I can claim as a retirement benefit that I wasn't already entitled to.

    Except that Hull City, who last year allowed over 60s to have discounted entry to games, have upped the age qualification to 65. So that's one benefit I have reclaimed.

    Apart from that nothing, nada, zilch. Unless you know better??

    Report on 08 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Of course Oldhenry had more time to spend when 'employed', he used that oxymoron 'working in local government'.

    Report on 08 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • JOHN MAXWELL
    Love rating 56
    JOHN MAXWELL said

    so many discontented comments and i can understand why if you have only ever lived in the UK. i lived for some years overseas, but outside the EU countries, and i can assure you the treatment of pensioners in this country is pretty good. rather than complain when some of my benefits/pension reduce i just count my blessings that i have food and decent accommodation. well done UK, you are not so bad.

    Report on 08 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • kiddo
    Love rating 1
    kiddo said

    You didn't mention that when you reach pension age, if you still work, you need to apply to HMRC for an Age Exemption Certificate and then you don't pay NI.

    Also - if you defer your pension (if you are still working) then it will increase - so if you defer for a year you get an increase of about 10% - all you need to do is stay alive!!!!!

    Report on 08 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jedi44
    Love rating 43
    jedi44 said

    @fenemore

    I am paid my state pension weekly so maybe it is different where you live. The writer is correct in my case.

    Report on 13 October 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Ginnymay
    Love rating 39
    Ginnymay said

    Prescriptions are free to all ages in Wales, so no added benefit over 60

    Report on 04 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • AFlondon
    Love rating 18
    AFlondon said

    In response to:

    Ginnymay said

    Prescriptions are free to all ages in Wales, so no added benefit over 60

    That's being paid for by the English taxpayer, who doesn't get any such benefit.

    Report on 05 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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