What benefits and pensions are available from the government?
Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for financial help from the government. The main benefits and pensions are described in more detail in separate articles:
- Attendance Allowance – for those over 65 who would benefit from extra help with washing, dressing or eating, due to illness or disability
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – helps to cover some of the extra costs associated with long-term illness or disability
- Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) – payable to people who are ill or disabled as a result of specific circumstances, such as workplace accidents or military service
- State Pension – available to everyone over state pension age who has made sufficient National Insurance contributions
- Pension Credit – for those on a low income, this tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed amount
- Benefits for carers – find out about extra financial support if you are a carer.
There are various other benefits available to older people – from the Winter Fuel Payment, to free travel and council tax reductions. Read on below for more information.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 and lived in the UK for one day during the week of 17–23 September 2018, a tax-free annual payment is available to help with fuel costs.
if you’re under 80 years old.
if you’re over 80 years old.
If you receive State Pension, you’ll receive the payment automatically, but if you don’t receive the payments and are still eligible, you’ll need to apply. Most payments are made in November or December, but should arrive by mid-January at the latest.
Visit gov.uk for more information about Winter Fuel Payment.
What other financial help is available for older people?
In addition to the main benefits outlined above, you might be eligible for the following financial help.
This is a one-off tax-free £10 payment (2018–19) that you receive before Christmas if you get certain benefits, such as State Pension or PIP, in the qualifying week. You should get paid automatically, so there’s no need to claim.
Council Tax reduction
You're eligible to receive money off your Council Tax if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. If you live alone, you’re entitled to a 25% discount.
What discount you get depends on the scheme your local authority runs: every council has its own scheme. Your circumstances and household makeup and income will also be taken into account. To find out more, you will need to get in touch with your local authority.
This reduction isn’t available in Northern Ireland, where there is a separate scheme.
Help with travel
Examples of help with travel include bus passes or a Blue Badge. In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the female State Pension age, whether you’re a man or a woman. If you haven’t yet reach State Pension age, use the Which? Money State Pension eligibility calculator to establish when you’ll become eligible for a bus pass.
If you live in London, you can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport when you reach the age of 60, but only within London. In Wales, you can get a bus pass from the age of 60.
Most towns also have their own dial-a-ride scheme available if you find it difficult to use public transport. See your local Age UK or Yell.com for details of schemes in your area. For tips and ideas on getting around without your own car, read our article on What are the alternatives to driving?
Find information on how to apply for a bus pass on gov.uk.
Help with health costs
If you’re aged 60 or over, you’re entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests. If you have a low income or get certain benefits, such as the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, you might also be entitled to free dental treatment, glasses and the cost of travel to hospital.
Available if you’re on low income and rent your home. Visit gov.uk for more information on Housing Benefit.
War Widow(er) Pension
You might be entitled to this if your wife, husband or civil partner died before 6 April 2005 as a result of their service in the armed forces or during a time of war.
If you’re aged 75 or over or your household includes someone over 75, you’re entitled to a free TV licence. The licence needs to be applied for and you’ll need your National Insurance number – if you don’t have your number, you’ll need another way to prove your age, such as a passport or driving licence. The TV licence will be automatically renewed each year. To find out more, go to the TV licensing website.
The benefits system
- Change of circumstances: if your circumstances change, you must notify gov.uk immediately as this could affect the benefits you’re entitled to. To find out more about what changes need to be reported, see this page on gov.uk.
- Benefit cap: there’s a limit to the total amount of benefits you can get if you’re aged 16 to 64. Visit gov.uk for more information on the benefit cap.
If you’re unsure which benefits you might be entitled to, use an online benefits calculator, such as this one at Turn2us. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your personal circumstances, then offered guidance on which benefits you might be eligible for.
Read about Attendance Allowance and the payment rates, plus tips on applying and completing the form.
Personal Independence Payment can help with some of the costs associated with long-term illness or disability.
Find out about the State Pension, including information on State Pension age and how much you’ll receive.