THOUSANDS of pounds worth of benefits, perks and discounts are going unclaimed in retirement.
Pensioners could be getting extra help on top of their state pension, which is set to rise less than expected next year.
The government has paused the triple lock which is usually used to calculate the annual amount the state pension will rise by.
Instead a double lock will be used, discarding a rise linked to earnings which have been skewed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The current state pension is worth up to £179.60 a week, which is just over £9,350 a year.
A rise linked to earnings would have boosted pensions by around 8% – or £800 a year.
The rise will now be linked to inflation, which is expected to be around 3%, or will just be 2.5% – whichever is highest.
That will add roughly £281 to the state pension per year from next April if inflation is the higher amount.
While it’s less than many had anticipated the thousands of pounds left unclaimed from other benefits for pensioners could plug the shortfall.
Here we explain what you could get and how to claim.
The benefits many people are missing out on add up to more than £11,000 a year, but of course the exact amount you could get depends on your circumstances and if your eligible.
Don’t forget you can also use a benefits checker to see what you could be missing out on.
Pension Credit – £3,000
One million pensioners are still missing out on Pension Credit, The Sun recently revealed.
The benefit can also unlock a range of other perks too, like a free TV licence and council tax discount, and you can read on to find out more about them.
Pension Credit itself is worth around £3,000 a year on average, and you can get extra help if you’re a carer, disabled, or responsible for a child.
There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:
- Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level
- Savings credit – provides extra money if you’ve saved money towards retirement
Many people think it’s not worth claiming because the second part may only give them pennies – but it’s worth getting for the other perks that can save you much more.
If you are eligible, then the government will top up your income to a minimum weekly amount, which varies depending on whether you’re single or in a couple.
If your income is lower than these minimum amounts, you should be eligible for the benefit.
- £177.10 if you’re single
- £270.30 if you have a partner
But even if your income is higher than the minimum weekly amount, you might still be eligible for Pension Credit if you have a disability, you care for someone, you have savings or you have housing costs.
You could get the ‘Savings Credit’ part of Pension Credit if both of the following apply:
- you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016
- you saved some money for retirement, for example a personal or workplace pension
You’ll get up to £14.04 Savings Credit a week if you’re single. If you have a partner, you’ll get up to £15.71 a week.
You might still get some Savings Credit even if you do not get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit.
The exact amount you can get depends on your circumstances so using a benefits calculator can help you work out how much you could get.
Carer’s allowance – £3,515
Carer’s allowance is for anyone who has caring responsibilities, regardless of age.
If you’re getting the state pension then you won’t be paid the allowance unless the amount of pension you get is less then carer’s allowance which is £67.60 a week.
You will get the difference, according to CarersUK, for example, if your State Pension is £50 per week you can get £17.60 per week in Carer’s Allowance.
But, even if you won’t get the payment it’s worth applying if you’re eligible as entitlement to Carers Allowance (even if you get zero) can give you access to other benefits parts of like Pension Credit and housing benefit.
It’s worth noting that carer’s allowance can affect the other benefits that you get and you have to pay tax on it if your income is over the Personal Allowance.
The easiest way to claim is online via the government website.
You can find out more about carer’s allowance and how to claim in our guide.
Attendance allowance – up to £4,660
Attendance allowance is for people over state pension age who need help at home because of an illness or disability.
It’s worth £60 a week if you need help either in the day or at night and £89.60 a week if you need help through both.
The amount of money you earn and the savings you have don’t affect how much you get.
You can make a claim for attendance allowance online through gov.uk.
Free TV license – £159
The rules on TV licenses have changed, meaning you no longer automatically get a free one when you’re over 75.
Instead you need to be over 75 and meeting one of the following criteria:
- Getting pension credit
- Living with a partner who receives pension credit
You can apply for a free licence online or by phoning 0300 790 6071.
You can get a special license costing just £7.50 if you are in eligible residential care.
You can also slash the bill by 50% if you are registered blind or live with someone who is.
Free travel – £90 and more
In England, you can apply for a free bus pass once you reach the state pension age (currently 66).
Bear in mind that the state pension ages are rising, so the age at which you can get the bus pass will also rise too. For instance, under current rules the state pension age will reach 67 by 2028.
In London, you can get a free bus pass from 60, which can be used on transport within the capital, while in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland you can also get a bus pass when you reach 60.
You apply via your local council – which can be done online.
If you travel by train a lot, you can apply for a Senior Railcard which National Rail estimates saves people £90 per year on average.
This annual savings card costs £30 a year and will save you a third on your train tickets. You can cat cut costs further by getting a three-year card for £70.
National Express also offers a Senior Coachcard for people who are 60 and over. It costs £12.50 and offers a third off your travel throughout the year.
Energy bill help – £140 or more
There are several schemes that can offer help paying energy bills for pensioners.
If you were born on or before September 26, 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help with your bills over winter.
To be eligible you need to have lived in the UK throughout the qualifying week for the financial year of 2021–2022, which is September 20–26 2021.
If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim. You can do this by calling the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0800 731 0160
Most payments are made automatically in November or December. You should get your money by March 31 2022.
You should also be eligible for the Cold Weather Payments, which are worth £25 each.
You get the money each time 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.
If you’re eligible for Pension Credit or other income-related benefits you’ll get Cold Weather Payments too. There’s no need to apply, it will be paid automatically.
If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and your supplier is part of the Warm Home Discount scheme, you will get £140 automatically deducted from your heating bill.
If you’re on a low income but don’t get Pension Credit, you may also be able to claim. You should get in touch with your electricity supplier for details.
Council tax bill help
If you receive the Guarantee part of Pension Credit you might get all of your council tax bill paid for in full.
However, council tax support rules vary depending on when you live so you need to check the rules with your local council.
Even if you don’t get Pension Credit, you might be eligible for some support, particularly if you live alone, or if you’re disabled, or if you have caring responsibilities.
To find out what you might get, you need to enter your postcode on the government website.
Exactly how much you can save depends on the size of your bill and the discount you get.
You can get help from the government paying your rent or mortgage if you’re on a lower income.
For instance, if you’re on Pension Credit and get the guaranteed element, you could get your full rent paid.
If you don’t get Pension Credit but you’re on low income, you may well still be eligible for help, but how much you get will depend on your income.
If you own your home, you won’t be eligible for Housing Benefit, but you could get support with your mortgage interest as part of Pension Credit instead.
You can either apply:
Help with NHS costs
If you’re over 60 you will get free prescriptions and you’re also entitled to free sight tests – but you’ll need to let your optician know.
You can also get help with dental treatment, glasses or contact lenses costs, NHS wigs and transport to hospital if you’re on a low income.
To get additional help you need to receive one of:
- The Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit (in some circumstances)
- Universal Credit (if you meet certain criteria).
To get the help with NHS costs, you need to show your benefit award letter to health care staff when you book or attend an appointment.
If you don’t receive any of these benefits but are on a low income, you can also get help through the NHS low income support scheme.
To find out about the scheme and how to apply – read the NHS guide here.
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