Don't miss out on these perks and benefits.
The importance of claiming
Charity Turn2us has found that 48% of low-income households aren't claiming the welfare benefits and tax credits they could be entitled to.
The problem is particularly noticeable in older households, with separate data suggesting nearly one million people aged over 75 are living in poverty and in need of more help from the Government.
According to a report from Independent Age, pensioners in this age group have £3,000 less income than younger pensioners.
Why more people don't claim
It seems that the problem might just be a lack of information.
Research from Turn2Us reveals that a worrying 81% of us haven’t checked what welfare benefits we could be entitled to in the past year.
Only 4% of us would turn to a charity for help, but 37% would be willing to cut back on gas, electricity and other essentials, while 30% would cut back on food.
Simon Hopkins, chief executive of Turn2us, said: “Shockingly around £15 billion in welfare support still goes unclaimed every year, and as our findings show, people often feel that benefits simply aren’t for them.”
Even a little bit of extra financial help can make a huge difference, so here are some extra perks that you can take advantage of later in life. Some will be available from just 50 years of age, while others are only for those in their 60s.
The purpose of Pension Credit is to top up low incomes, bringing them up to a minimum of £155.60 for single people and £237.55 for a couple. Unfortunately, many people who are eligible don’t claim it- see if you can benefit.
Once you are four months away from your State Pension age you can either claim your State Pension or defer it.
Delaying when you get your pension means you can earn more later.
For every 9 weeks deferred your weekly allowance will increase by 1%. This amounts to 5.8% extra for every full year you defer.
If you retired before April 6 2016 – for every five weeks you defer you get an extra 1, which amounts to a 10.4% boost.
Those that reached State Pension age before april 6 2016 may defer and then be paid the extra weekly or as a one off lump sum (as long as you have deferred for at least 12 months in a row). This includes deferred payment plus 2% interest above the Bank of England Base Rate.
Anyone aged 55 and over can take the whole pension as a lump sum, paying no tax on the first 25%.
For more information visit the Government website.
Help with your Council Tax
You could get a leg up with your Council Tax payments if your savings are below £16,000 or you're on a low income. Contact your local authority (or the Welsh or Scottish Government) to find out if you’re eligible.
Help with your heating
No one should have to choose between heating and eating, which is why the Government has a few initiatives in place to help cover your heating in the bitter winter months.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment helps those born on or before 5 May 1953 keep warm during the winter. The amount of money you get depends on your age and who lives in your house, ranging from £100-£300 a year.
Those who have received it in previous years shouldn’t have to make another claim - it’ll be given to you automatically. What’s more, you should receive it automatically if you meet the age and residence criteria and receive another Government benefit including State Pension, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
Ring the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 03459 15 15 15 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm to claim
Cold Weather Payment
You’ll receive £25 payments when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March each year.
If you’re entitled to other income-related benefits like Pension Credit, you’ll be eligible for cold weather payments. It’ll be paid automatically too.
Warm Homes Discount
You can also get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warmer Homes Discount scheme. It won't be paid to you directly, but a one-off lump sum that will be taken off your electricity bill. This usually happens some time between October and April.
You'll qualify for the discount if, on July 10 2016, all of the following apply:
- your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
Insulation and heating schemes
You can free loft insulation and other energy efficiency improvements from your energy supplier under the Energy Company Obligation and sometimes through other grants.
Disability Living Allowance (or Personal Independence Payment)
Disability Living Allowance is being phased out for people born after April 8 1948. It’s being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP will cover you if you have long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64. The financial support you receive depends on how the condition affects you, not the actual condition itself, but you’ll get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week.
Find out how it'll affect you on the Government's website.
People who are over 65 could get help with personal care if they’re physically or mentally disabled. It’s paid at two different rates (higher and lower) and the amount you get is dependent on how much care you need. Other benefits that you already get may be increased on top of it, but you could get £55.10 or £82.30 a week as standard, depending on whether you need lower or higher rate care.
Free prescriptions and eye tests for over 60s
Over 60s can get free prescriptions at the doctors and at some pharmacies that run a minor ailment scheme.
As well as free medication over 60s can also get free eye tests and there’s 25% off glasses at Specsavers from Monday to Friday on ranges for over 60s to boot.
Free bus pass
Those living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland qualify for a free bus pass when they reach the age of 60.
In England it’s slightly more complicated: women will get a bus pass when they reach State Pensions age, whereas men will only qualify when they reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day as them. Get more information on how to apply here.
Senior rail card
A senior railcard will give you a third off standard and first class anytime, off-peak and advance fares and it costs just £30 a year.
British nationals born on or before 2nd September 1929 could get a free passport.
You’ll need a full 10-year passport if you want to go abroad whatever your age, even if it’s for a short trip.
Entertainment, shopping and culture
Pub and carvery meal discounts
The Diamond Club card offers discounts on meals in pubs and carveries for diners over 50. You’ll earn one point for every £1 spent and as a nice little extra you'll get a free drink on your birthday. Cheers!
See How to get cheap and free cinema tickets for more.
If you’re over 60 you can become a Diamond Club member at B&Q and get a 10% discount at stores on a Wednesday as well as money off in the coffee shops.
Free TV licence
People aged 75 or over will get a free TV licence.
A lot of museums offer money off for senior citizens. The National Trust offers reduced price membership too.
War pensioners and widows
If your partner died as a result of their service in the Armed Forces or during a time of war, then you may be entitled to a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension.
Get your claim form from Veterans UK by phoning 0808 1914 218.
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Age UK offers a handyperson service across the country to give older people help with small practical jobs.
They can help with small repairs, installing safety measures like a smoke alarm, home security and energy efficiency checks.
You can call Age UK to see what services they can help you find on 0800 169 2081 or search for your local centre online.
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