When it comes to growing old, the UK has one of the best benefits and grants systems in the world. Rather bewilderingly though is that not many people, let alone elderly people, are aware of the great number of benefits and grants available. Every year in the UK, a colossal £3.7 billion worth of benefits aren’t claimed by the elder generation. Admittedly, an older person may not need these grants but for many, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis we’re presently in, these are a huge lifeline.
No matter what the situation may be, whether you’re an elderly person who is fit and healthy or has physical or mental disabilities, there are numerous support packages out there that could really help out. The charity, Age UK, have put together a handy calculator to work out exactly what grants and benefits you’re entitled to depending on your situation.
We break down the extensive range of allowances, grants and benefits available to the older generation, the qualifying variables needed to be accepted, and how to claim or apply for them.
What Benefits & Grants Are The Elderly Entitled To?
The most common and well-known benefit for the elderly is the State Pension. You must apply for this though and there are two systems currently in effect so you’ll need to determine which category you fall into.
The ‘old’ system is for those who reached the state pension age (66) before 6 April 2016. Under this system, you could receive up to £141.85 per week which increases year on year in line with inflation. To receive the full amount, you must have had 30 years of National Insurance Contributions.
The ‘new’ system applies if you’re a man born on (or after) 6th April 1951, or if you’re a woman born on (or after) 6th April 1953. Under the “new” system, you could receive up to £185.15 per week, which again increases each year in line with inflation. To qualify for the new state pension, you must have had at least 10 years of National Insurance contributions. Likewise, to receive the full amount, you must have paid into National Insurance for 35 years.
Housing Benefits/Universal Credits
Housing Benefit is in the process of being completely replaced by Universal Credit. However, you can still make a claim here if you’re eligible for the State Pension and if you don’t already receive Universal Credit.
Unlike the State Pension though, there’s no set amount for Housing Benefit. The amount you can receive is determined by your personal circumstances, such as your age, the amount of rent you pay, as well as your household income (including pension and benefits).
There are multiple other restrictions on who can receive Housing Benefit so it’s worth having a thorough, detailed read over what you’re entitled to at the dedicated Housing Benefit government portal page.
Council Tax Reduction
The vast majority of households in the UK are obliged to pay council tax. Council tax is used to pay for vital local services such schools, rubbish and recycling collections, as well as libraries. The council tax rate, known as the band, depends on where you live and the type of property you live in.
Every council in the UK features their own council tax reduction or support scheme. The amount of money you could be entitled to depends on such variables as where you live, your income and savings (including pension), whether you have any children, and whether you receive other benefits.
To check the eligibility of whether you qualify, visit the dedicated Council Tax reduction government portal page.
All over 60s in the UK are entitled to free eye tests, dental treatment and prescriptions. You may also qualify for other discounts. If you receive Pension Credit and your spouse or partner is younger than 60, they will also be entitled to free prescriptions as well as free eyes tests.
For prescriptions, simply ask your pharmacist when you drop off a prescription and you’ll be told to fill in a declaration at the back of the prescription form. For free tests, simply ask your optician when you make an appointment. You may need to complete a General Ophthalmic Services form (GOS1). If you’re on pension credit, you can also claim a voucher towards the cost of new glasses or contact lenses.
For dental treatment, simply ask your dental surgery when you make an appointment. You may need to complete a declaration form and show your award notice from the Pension Centre.
Attendance & Carer’s Allowances
If you are physically or mentally disabled and you receive the State Pension, you could be entitled to Attendance Allowance. The benefit is intended to provide support for those who live independently but might otherwise need to go into residential care. The Attendance Allowance pays £61.85 per week if you need help during either the day or night, or £92.40 if you need help day and night or you’re terminally ill.
What’s more, you actually don’t need to have someone caring for you to claim this benefit. For more information and how to apply, check out the dedicated Attendance Allowance government portal page.
Furthermore, If you spend at least 35 hours per week caring for someone who receives Attendance Allowance, you could be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. The Carer’s Allowance is £69.70 per week. For more information and how to apply, check out the dedicated Carer’s Allowance government portal page.
It’s also worth mentioning, if you care for someone for at least 20 hours per week, you really should also consider claiming Carer’s Credit. Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record. Your State Pension is based on your National Insurance record. Your income, savings or investments will not affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit. To find out more and how to apply, check out the dedicated Carer’s Credit government portal page.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
The Personal Independence Payment, previously known as the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), is a benefit which can help with living costs if you have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability, as well as difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition. You can get PIP even if you’re working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
There are 2 parts to PIP:
- a daily living part – if you need help with everyday tasks
- a mobility part – if you need help with getting around
Whether you get one or both parts, and how much you get, depends on how difficult you find everyday tasks and getting around. For more information and how to apply, check out the dedicated PIP government portal page.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work, you may qualify for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). You can apply if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed. ESA gives you:
- money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
- support to get back into work if you’re able to
To find out more and how to apply, check out the dedicated ESA government portal page.
You could be entitled to money to help cover warming your home. You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.
You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. In order to apply, you will need to contact your energy supplier to check eligibility. There are 2 ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:
- you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit– known as the ‘core group’
- you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group’
As well as this, if you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ and will be usually paid in November or December. You will get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically, meaning you do not need to claim, if you’re eligible and either:
- get the State Pension
- get another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)
Furthermore, if you receive Pension Credit or Support for Mortgage Interest, you should also receive from the Cold Weather Payment. This is to help support the costs of keeping your house warm during the cold winter months.
The Cold Weather Payment is £25 for every 7 days that are deemed ‘very cold weather’ between 1st November and 31st March each year. You don’t need to apply for the Cold Weather Payment. It’s paid automatically to people on Pension Credit and other benefits. For more information on the payment scheme, check out the dedicated Cold Weather Payment government portal page.
There are numerous discounted or free travel benefits for the elderly. If you live in England, you’re eligible for a free bus pass once you reach 65. In Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, anyone over the age of 60 is eligible. For more information, check out the dedicated elderly person bus pass government portal page.
If you’re over 60 and live in London, you’re eligible for a 60+ Oyster card which entitles you to free transport throughout the city. As well as this, once you’re over 65, you can also apply for a Freedom Pass, which entitles London residents to free transport. It’s worth noting though, there are certain restrictions on where and when you can use your Freedom Pass. You can find out more information at the dedicated London Council Freedom Pass portal page.
National Rail also offers a Senior Rail Card which entitles anyone over the age of 60 to a third off of anytime, off-peak, and advance tickets. The card costs £30 for 1 year or £70 for 3 years, with more information explained on the Senior Railcard website.
Likewise, if you’re over 60 you can purchase a Senior Coachcard which gives you a third off standard and flexible fares on National Express. The card costs £12.50 plus postage, with more information found at the National Express Senior Coachcard page.
Blue badges help people who are disabled or who have certain health conditions park closer to their destination.
Often people will automatically receive a blue badge because of their condition, whilst others may need to apply. The blue badges cost £10 in England and Northern Ireland, and £20 in Scotland, and are free in Wales. You can find out more information, and how to apply, at the dedicated Blue Badge government portal page.
Additionally, if you’re over 75 and you receive Pension Credit, you can apply for a free TV license.
We hope this has outlined to you the main benefits and grants that the elderly are entitled to in the UK. If you require any further information on any government grants or financial support packages, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.