Many pensioners are failing to claim the various benefits, credits and discounts that they are eligible for. Here's a rundown of all the help available to older Brits – make sure you don't miss out.
Pensioners not claiming benefits
Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are missing out on thousands of pounds in help from the State.
New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that in 2020 two-thirds of families entitled to Pension Credit received it.
That obviously means that one in three households that could claim this benefit missed out, which the Government believes works out at around 850,000 families.
This isn’t a small sum they are missing out on either, with around £1.7 billion going unclaimed.
This is the equivalent of £1,900 per family each year, a sum that could potentially make a huge difference to the standard of living in retirement.
It’s not just Pension Credit that isn’t being taken advantage of though.
The DWP data also suggests that around 16% of pensioners who may be eligible for Housing Benefit have failed to claim the case, which works out at around 400,000 families.
Again, this is a lot of money we are talking about, at up to £4,000 a year.
This isn’t a new issue
It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t a new development, and that there have been concerns over pensioners failing to claim all that they are entitled to for some time.
A study by Just Group last year found 42% of eligible older people are not claiming any of the benefits they are entitled to, missing out on an average of £830 a year. A further 20% are at least claiming some of the benefits they could get, but not their full entitlement, missing out on a typical £702 a year.
That's particularly worrying given that more and more of us are retiring with sizeable debts still to clear.
Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said that the study showed that “meaningful sums” which would make a real difference to the living standards of older people are going unclaimed.
He added: “It reflects the government’s own figures that show billions go unclaimed and raises serious questions about whether people in most need are able to navigate the complexities of the benefits system.”
Of course, it's not just about Government help: there are loads of perks, discounts and incentives reserved for older Brits.
Even a little bit of extra financial help can make a huge difference, so we've rounded up loads of extra perks that you can take advantage of.
Note that some will be available from just 50 years of age, while others are only for those aged 60 and upwards.
If you've taken advantage of all the assistance you can get and are still struggling, take a look at this guide to boosting your income in retirement.
How to claim credits and benefits
Top up your pension income
Pension Credit is made up of two parts, namely Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Credit.
The purpose of Guarantee Pension Credit is to top up low incomes, bringing them up to a minimum of £177.10 for single people and £270.30 for a couple.
Savings Credit is an additional payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, such as a workplace pension.
It is worth up to £14. 04 for individuals or up to £15.71 for couples.
Take a look at this page to see if you can benefit.
Claim Housing Benefit
Housing Benefit can be used to help pay your rent if you have passed State Pension age and you have a low income or are claiming other benefits.
There’s no set amount that you can claim ‒ there are a host of different factors that influence that, such as whether you are renting council housing or privately, your household income, and your circumstances.
For example, if you are renting privately, the amount of rent that you can claim help with is either your Local Housing Allowance rate or your actual rent, whichever is lower.
You can apply through your local council or as part of a Pension Credit claim, and you can get more info from this section of the Gov.uk website.
Get help with your Council Tax
You could get a helping hand with your Council Tax through the Council Tax Reduction scheme. In fact, your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.
What you can get will come down to a host of factors, including your location (each council runs its own scheme), your household income and what level of savings you have.
You can apply for Council Tax reduction through this section of the Government’s website.
It now costs £9.35 for an NHS prescription but if you’re aged 60 or over and living in England, you won’t have to pay anything.
If you live somewhere else in the UK, you're obviously entitled to free prescriptions regardless of your age.
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 October 1954 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.
The deadline for claiming payments for the winter is 31 March each 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.
Learn more here, or ring the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0800 731 0160 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm to claim.
You’ll receive a £25 payment 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 Warm Homes Discount scheme.
It won't be paid to you directly: it's a one-off lump sum that will be taken off your electricity bill at some point between September and March.
You'll qualify for the discount if, on 7 July 2019, all of the following apply:
- your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
- your name 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.
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payments (PIP), formerly the Disability Living Allowance, 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 £23.70 and £152.15 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 £60.00 or £89.60 a week as standard, depending on whether you need lower or higher rate care.
Free eye tests for over 60s
Over 60s can also get free eye tests and there’s 20% off glasses at Specsavers on ranges for over 60s to boot. Boots also offer 20% discounts for the over 60s, as well as all additional pairs being half price.
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 Pension age, whereas men will only qualify when they reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day as them.
There are some regional differences too though ‒ over 60s can travel for free on public transport in London for example.
Get more information on how to apply here.
A Senior Railcard will give you a third off standard and first class anytime, off-peak and advance fares and it costs just £30 for the one-year card or £70 for the three-year option.
British nationals born on or before 2nd September 1929 could get a free passport, saving you up to £95.
Entertainment, shopping and culture
See How to get cheap and free cinema tickets for more details.
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.
Age UK offers handyperson services across most of the country to give older people help with small practical jobs.
You can enter your postcode on this page to see if this is available where you live.
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 678 1602 or search for your local centre online.
*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.
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