Benefits for the elderly – how to top up your income

Whether Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Council Tax Reduction, or Winter Fuel Payments, there are many benefits for the elderly that help increase your income in later life. These benefits are easy to apply for – and, together, really add up. What’s more, they’re unclaimed by hundreds of thousands of people every year. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to make sure you get what you’re entitled to.

Chapters

1. Attendance Allowance – if you need support living independently

Quick summary

  • Attendance Allowance is one of the benefits for the elderly over State Pension age who need help with personal care or supervision, because of physical or mental disability.
  • You may be eligible for Attendance Allowance if you’re above pension age and have a physical or mental condition that means you need help with personal care or supervision, or have a terminal illness.
  • You could receive £59.70-£89.15 per week, depending on your level of needs.
  • You can apply from the Attendance Allowance Helpline on 0800 731 0122 (textphone 0800 731 0317), or click here to download a claim form

What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a benefit for people over State Pension age who need help with personal care or supervision, because of physical or mental disability. It is based on the help you require, not the help you actually get.

Attendance Allowance isn’t means-tested, which means it doesn’t matter how much income or savings you have – you’ll still be entitled to the same amount if you meet the criteria.

You can use Attendance Allowance payments in any way you wish, to meet your needs and stay independent in your own home. It can be a significant contribution to any live-in care arrangement.

Who is eligible for Attendance Allowance?

To qualify for Attendance Allowance you’ll need to meet all of the following criteria:

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What is personal care?

Personal care can be things like getting dressed, eating or drinking, getting in and out of bed, bathing or showering and going to the toilet. Supervision is about someone ensuring you’re safe in or out of the home. 

Can you get Attendance Allowance if you’re terminally ill?

Yes, special conditions allow those who are terminally ill to get help more easily. This applies if you have a progressive illness that is considered likely to limit your life expectancy to six months or less. If this applies to you:

How much is Attendance Allowance?

You could get £59.70 or £89.15 a week depending on the level of care or support you need. What you do with that money is entirely up to you.

Who is eligiblePaymentWeekly amount
You need help during the day or night, but not bothLower Rate£59.70
You need help during the day and night; and/or you are terminally illHigher Rate£89.15

It’s usually paid every four weeks, into your bank account.

Does Attendance Allowance affect other benefits?

Attendance Allowance is paid on top of other benefits or pensions, except for Constant Attendance Allowance and War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement.

As well as these, you can’t get Attendance Allowance if you already get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If you do qualify for the allowance, you may also qualify for, or receive more of, other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.

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Why does Attendance Allowance go unclaimed?

Many people don’t claim the allowance, even though they’re untitled to it. Don’t let any of the following common mistakes put you off applying:

  • You were rejected in the past – if your circumstances have changed, so has your eligibility.
  • You think your income is too high – it’s not means-tested, so your income doesn’t matter.
  • You don’t need it – there are always things you can put it to that can improve your life.
  • You don’t want a carer – it doesn’t have to be spent on care, you can use it however you like.
  • You can’t be bothered – the claims form is a bit long, but the money quickly adds up to thousands.

How can I apply for Attendance Allowance?

As with many of the benefits we run through on this page, applying for Attendance Allowance is a relatively simple process. It’s essentially completing a claims form and sending off. Despite this, hundreds of millions of pounds worth go unclaimed by people each year. Make sure you’re not one of them. Here’s how to apply.

What to do before you apply

It’s a good idea to have some details to hand which you’ll need:

National Insurance Number

Your National Insurance number

Your GP's details

Your GP’s details

Have information about your medication to hand.

A list of your medication

It may also help to think about all the day to day support you need. Consider keeping a diary for a few days before completing the forms. This will highlight where you feel you need help or struggle with activities or tasks. 

If you’re filling in the claim form out for yourself, it’s a good idea to have someone else – preferably a healthcare worker – to provide a short statement on your condition or illness.

The application process

You can apply for Attendance Allowance either for yourself. Or, if you have permission, on behalf of someone else who may have difficulty.

The forms may be difficult, as there are questions about your condition or disability including some personal questions. Take your time, and try to include as much information as possible including detailed answers in the written sections.

It’s important to include all activities, tasks or needs which you’re unable to do independently. But anything you struggle to do or experience pain or discomfort while doing them. If you need support, charities like Age UK can help you complete the form.

1

Order or download form

The first step is to get the Attendance Allowance claim form. You can find this on the gov.uk website, or call the Attendance Allowance Helpline on 0800 731 0122 and request one to be sent.

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Fill in and free post

The form will come with guidance notes to explain exactly what you need to do. Send the completed form to ‘Freepost Department for Work and Pensions: Attendance Allowance’.

3

Receive decision

You’ll receive a written decision about your eligibility for Attendance Allowance in the post. If you find yourself to be unsuccessful, you can appeal.

Applying for Attendance Allowance if you have a terminal illness

If you’re claiming Attendance Allowance and have a terminal illness, your claim should also include a DS1500 form which is available from your GP or consultant. You’ll be given a freepost address for the form when you make the claim over the phone.

You’ll also not have to complete the part of the claim form which asks about your personal care or supervision needs, as you’ll automatically qualify for the higher rate of Attendance Allowance.

What if additional information is needed for after my application?

In some cases, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) might contact you to ask for more information, or to arrange for a doctor to visit you. This will be if they have any uncertainty over your level of need or have cause to make any further assessments. 

You don’t need to do anything specific for the visit unless you’re asked to, but it’s a good idea to have a copy of your application form to hand, including a list of all the tasks or activities you struggle with. It’s critical to be confident in the answers you’ve provided, and have practical examples in your head in case you’re asked. If you’re struggling with memory, it may help to take along a loved one to help support you with this.

Customer snapshots

Whether it’s getting up on the dance floor, forming lasting friendships or offering complete peace of mind to loved ones, a live-in carer can be transformative. These videos include families discussing why they chose live-in care and how it was arranged, as well as snapshots of how those receiving care find it.

Receiving a decision

The Department of Work and Pensions will review your claim and let you know their decision in writing. This is usually within six weeks if you have an illness or condition, and two weeks if you have a terminal illness. You should call the Attendance Allowance helpline if you haven’t received your letter after eight weeks, on 0800 731 0122.

Your Attendance Allowance will be awarded for either a fixed or indefinite period. 

If it is a fixed period, you’ll need to renew your claim before that period ends. You should get a letter and a new claim form from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). You should get the letter about four months before your Attendance Allowance is due to end. If it’s an indefinite period, you’ll never have to reapply.

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What to do if you want to appeal a decision

If you disagree with the decision, you can ask for a Mandatory Consideration of your case by contacting the DWP.

What happens to Attendance Allowance my circumstances change?

You should contact the Attendance Allowance Helpline if your circumstances change, as it may mean you’re entitled to a lower or higher rate. Changes can include:

You should also contact the helpline for other changes such as your address or bank details or your doctor’s details.

2. Carers Allowance – Money for when you care for someone yourself

Quick summary

  • Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for informal carers, to help them manage in their role as a carer.
  • You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you’re an adult carer for someone, spend at least 35 hours a week caring, do not earn more than £128 per week, and are a UK resident.
  • You could receive up to £67.25 per week, depending on other benefits.
  • You can apply for Carer’s Allowance at Gov.UK here (here) or over the phone on 0800 731 0297

What is Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for informal carers, who look after someone for more than 35 hours per week. Caring for someone can include physical, domestic, practical and even emotional support. 

Even if you don’t think of yourself as being a carer, it may still be worth applying, as you could be entitled to up to £67.25 per week. The money you receive is for you to spend as you see fit, to help you in managing your role as a carer.

Who is eligible for Carer’s Allowance?

You can apply for Carer’s Allowance if you meet all these conditions:

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How much Carer’s Allowance goes unclaimed each year?

It’s estimated that £1.3bn of Carer’s Allowance goes unclaimed each year. That accounts for up to 400,000 people. If you’re looking after a loved one, it’s really important you claim. It can account to nearly £3,500 per year. Even if you’re not found to be eligible, you may be found eligible for other benefits.

How do I check if I am eligible for Carer’s Allowance?

To get started, work through the conditions detailed below to check your eligibility:

Your age and working status

  1. You must be over 16 to receive Carer’s Allowance, although you can apply for Carer’s Allowance up to three months before you turn 16.
  2. You can’t be in full-time education. ‘Full-time’ typically means you need to study for more than 21 hours per week to meet the course requirements. You also can’t claim during scheduled breaks in full-time studies, such as summer holidays. If you’re studying part-time, you may need to get written proof that you’re not expected to study for 21 hours or more.

The level of care you provide

You need to spend at least 35 hours a week caring, which can include care any time of the day or night. You can’t ‘average’ the hours across weeks, but scheduled breaks in care are allowed (up to 4 weeks in any 26 weeks) and won’t be counted.

The 35 hours should be spent caring for one person, so hours can’t be combined if you care for more than one person. If you share caring for someone with another person, only one of you can claim the Carer’s Allowance.

The person you care for doesn’t need to be a relative, and you don’t have to live in the same property.

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What does caring for someone mean?

  • Physical support – such as help getting up or dressed
  • Domestic support – such as cleaning or cooking
  • Practical support – such as helping them to get to medical appointments; or help with paperwork
  • Safety support – such as watching that they are not in danger
  • Emotional support – but only during Covid-19

Your earnings

Carer’s Allowance is not means-tested but, to apply, there’s a maximum earnings limit of £128 per week from paid employment. This is after deductions, which can include Income Tax, National Insurance, business expenses, and half of any pension contributions. 

Earnings do not include personal or occupational pensions. However, if you receive a State Pension, you won’t be eligible for full Carer’s Allowance.

The amount you earn is usually calculated over a typical year. If your earnings aren’t stable, for example, you’re self-employed, earnings may be taken as an average.

Your residence in the UK

You must have been living in the UK for two of the past three years. This applies unless you’re a member of the armed forces stationed overseas or have refugee status.

You should be seen to be ‘habitually resident’. This means you normally live in the UK without any immigration restrictions.

Disability benefit(s) of the person being cared for

The person you care for must be receiving one of the following disability benefits:

  1. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – specifically the middle or the higher rate of the care component
  2. Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  3. Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
  4. Armed Forces Independence Payment

If the person doesn’t already receive these benefits, you may want to consider making a claim through gov.uk.

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Don’t think you’re eligible?

If you don’t think you are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, you may want to explore other options such as paying for care from a professional. However, it’s best to start off with submitting an application. Even if you’re deemed ineligible, it’s likely you’ll be referred to someone who can help you.

How much is Carer’s Allowance?

The Carer’s Allowance is up to £67.25 per week for a single carer, although there may be some eligibility rules which affect how much you receive. If you receive other means-tested benefits, these could also increase based on your caring role. 

Carer’s Allowance is usually paid into an existing bank account. It’s your choice whether to be paid weekly or every four weeks.

If you’re living in Scotland, you may be entitled to an extra Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment. This is an extra payment for people who get Carer’s Allowance. It’s usually paid out as a lump sum twice a year.

Does Carer’s Allowance affect other benefits?

In short, yes. Carer’s Allowance will be limited by, or can affect, other means-tested benefits you receive. This is because, under the rule of ‘overlapping benefits’, there is a maximum entitlement from different benefits.

You won’t usually be able to claim the full Carer Allowance if you receive any of the following benefits:

  1. State Pension 
  2. contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  3. Incapacity Benefit 
  4. Maternity Allowance 
  5. Bereavement or widow’s benefits 
  6. Severe Disablement Allowance 
  7. Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Even so, it’s worth making an application as you could be entitled to an ‘underlying entitlement’. If your benefits are under a certain amount, you might get a smaller additional payment of Carer’s Allowance.

Alternatively, you may become eligible for more or different means-tested benefits, as a carer. If you apply, your overall benefits won’t go down as a result of applying, and they may go up. So it’s a no-brainer.

It’s also worth noting that Carer’s Allowance can be taxable if it takes you above the taxable income threshold when combined with other sources of income.

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It’s always worth applying

It’s worth applying for Carer’s Allowance – even if you already get benefits. You may be entitled to increased means-tested benefits or additional payments.

Impact on other benefits for the supported person

Receiving Carer’s Allowance will not affect the disability benefit or State Pension of the person being cared for. However, they may lose any Severe Disability Premium or Severe Disability Addition in Pension Credit. So, it’s important to consider this. If your situation isn’t clear, you should reach out to your Social Worker or local branch of Age UK.

How can I apply for Carer’s Allowance?

You apply for Carer’s Allowance on the gov.uk website. You’re also able to download or order a physical copy of the form. It doesn’t take long to apply. In this section, we’ll talk through what to prepare before applying and how the application process works.

Before applying

It’s worth taking the time to gather the right information before you start your application. By being prepared, the application process itself won’t feel like too much hard work.

Information about you, if you’re not the person being cared for

  1. Bank or building society information
  2. National Insurance number of yourself and your partner (if applicable)
  3. Employment details and latest payslip – or latest P45 if you’re not working
  4. Educational course details if you’re studying
  5. Any deductible expenses – e.g. childcare, business costs, private pension, etc.

Information about the person being cared for

To complete your application, you’ll need the following information about the person being cared for:

Date of birth

National Insurance number

Address and postcode

The application process

Like all the benefits we talk about on this page, the actual process for applying to claim Carer’s Allowance is really simple – even if the form may be a bit confusing. Here’s a run through the process.

1

Order or download form

Apply online or download a hard copy of the form from gov.uk. You can also request a claim pack DS700 (or DS700(SP) if you’re getting a State Pension) by calling the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 or text phone 0800 731 0317.

2

Complete and return

For the online form, the person you’re caring for doesn’t need to sign their consent, but there is a section where you must declare that you’ve made, or will make, the person aware of the potential impact to their benefits, and they’ll be notified of this.

3

Receive claim decision

If you’re eligible, you may able to backdate your claim up to three months. Alternatively, you can apply three months in advance if you anticipate being able to meet the criteria for the allowance in the near future.

How long does it take to apply for Carer’s Allowance?

There’s no set time period for a decision to be made. You’ll receive a written decision, which will tell you whether you have been awarded Carer’s Allowance and from what date. If you’ve met the criteria for the benefit, but other overlapping benefits mean you can’t be paid it, the details of this will be included.

This is called ‘underlying entitlement’. This can also have a positive benefit. If may mean certain other benefits, such as Pension Credit, go up. All the details will be included in the letter. Whether this has a positive or negative impact is irrelevant – you should always apply to get a good idea of your situation.

If you’re successful, you should begin receiving your payments, including any back-dated payments.

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What to do if you’re not eligible for Carer’s Allowance

If you don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance, you may want to consider applying for Carer’s Credit. This is a National Insurance credit towards your State Pension for those ineligible for Carer’s Allowance.

What to do if you want to appeal a decision

If you want to appeal a decision, you should do this within a month of receiving your decision letter. You can ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of the decision which means that the Department for Work and Pensions will look at the case again.

For more information, read this guide from Carers UK about making an appeal.

What happens to Carer’s Allowance if your circumstances change?

You’re allowed to take regular breaks from caring, up to four weeks in any 26 weeks, and it will not affect your payments. 

However, other changes may affect Carer’s Allowance, such as:

  1. If the person you’re caring for goes into hospital, for longer than 12 weeks
  2. If the person you are caring for enters residential care
  3. If you go abroad for any reason

If something bigger changes, all you need to do is to contact the DWP’s Carer’s Allowance Unit and let them know. Call them on 0800 731 0297 or text phone 0800 731 0317.

3. Pension Credit – Top up your income with a bonus on your pension

Quick summary

  • Pension Credit is an income-related benefit for people over state pension age, to top-up their weekly income.
  • Guaranteed Credit is available as a payment for pensioners on lower incomes; if your weekly income is below £167.25 per week, or £255.25 for a couple.
  • Savings Credit is a reward for pensioners who have been able to save a pension; if your income is over £144.38 a week, or £229.67 for a couple.
  • You may also be eligible for other benefits if you are receiving Pension Credit.
  • Apply by calling the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133

What is Pension Credit?

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit for people over state pension age. There are over three million households able to claim it but 40% of these don’t. Most of these people simply don’t know they’re eligible.

It offers older people a weekly top-up to their income and is available to single pensioners, as well as couples. You can still be working and make a claim.

There are two different types of Pension Credit available, depending on your income and circumstances:

  1. Guarantee credit – top-up for pensioners on lower incomes
  2. Savings credit – a reward for those who’ve saved for retirement

Who is eligible for Pension Credit?

To claim any type of Pension Credit you’ll need to be over the pension age. Usually, the pension age is 66 years old but it can depend on your gender and date of birth. If in doubt, simply check your State Pension Age.

If you’re a couple, both of you need to have reached state pension age to make a claim as a couple, unless you are claiming Housing Benefit. 

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No savings limit

There isn’t a savings limit for Pension Credit, but if you have savings over £10,000 this may affect how much you receive.

Am I eligible for Pension Guarantee Credit?

Guaranteed Pension Credit Eligibility
Guaranteed Pension Credit Eligibility

If you’re over the pension age, you can claim Guarantee Credit if your weekly income is less than £173.75 as a single person, or £265.20 if you’re in a couple. To assess this, the Government looks at all of your income.

This includes both your basic and additional state pension, any income from other pensions, income from any jobs or social security benefits you have. As well as any savings and investments above £10,000.

If you fill out self-assessment tax returns, you’ll also need to estimate how much tax you expect to pay this financial year.

If you’re an eligible age, but your weekly income is higher than the limit, you can still claim Guarantee Credit if:

  1. You have a severe disability
  2. You are a carer
  3. You have to pay housing costs like a mortgage

Am I eligible for Pension Savings Credit?

If you’re over the pension age, you can claim Savings Credit if you have a minimum income of £144.38 a week if you’re single, and £229.67 a week if you’re in a couple.

For every £1 by which your income exceeds this amount, you get 60p of savings credit – up to £13.73/£15.35 per week maximum.
Savings credit is only available to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

Couples, where only one partner had reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, can also continue receiving savings credit if the older partner had reached 65 and qualified for savings credit before that date and has remained entitled to it since.

Additional payments

You may be entitled to additional payments on top of your Pension Credit if any of the following apply to you:

  1. You are a carer
  2. You or your spouse are severely disabled
  3. You are responsible for a child or young person (known as a ‘child addition’)
  4. You have certain housing costs e.g. mortgage interest repayments

Does Pension Credit affect other benefits or payments?

Pension Credit can positively affect your entitlement to benefits. If you’re entitled to it, you could benefit from other reductions or payments:

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Receiving Tax Credits?

If you’re currently receiving tax credits, you may be entitled to a lower Pension Credit amount.

How can I apply for Pension Credit?

Applying or Pension Credit is a relatively simple process. But, by opening up eligibility for a huge range of other elderly benefits, the combined impact on your finances can be massive. Below we run through how it works.

Before applying

Making an application is a lot faster if you have everything together. It’s a good idea to have the following information to hand, to complete the information needed:

National Insurance Number 

Bank account details with income and savings info

Details of any disabilities or conditions you have

Details of any pensions you already have

Proof of your housing costs – rent or mortgage

Details about your partner, if relevant

The application process

The application process can be done really easily with a phone call. You can apply up to four months before you want to start receiving pension credit. And, around 90% of Pension Credit applications are successful.

1

Call and complete form

The quickest way to claim pension credit is to call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133). They will fill in the application form over the phone for you. Or you can complete the Pension Credit Claim form online.

2

Receive response

You’ll be informed of the outcome of your application by letter. This will provide you with details of how much you’ll get and when t’s to be paid.

3

Making an appeal

If you’re unhappy with the decision made, you’ll need to ask for what’s known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of the decision before you appeal. You must usually do this within one month of the date of a decision.

How is Pension Credit paid?

All benefits, pensions and allowances are usually paid into a bank account, and you can choose to be paid either fortnightly or monthly.

What if my circumstances change?

You should tell the Pension Service as soon as possible about any change in your situation that might affect how much Pension Credit you get, including:

  1. If you start work
  2. If your savings go above £10,000
  3. If your capital or income changes in other ways
4. Council Tax Reduction – Make your outgoings manageable

Quick summary

  • Council Tax Reduction is a benefit to help those on lower incomes, including those over retirement age or those with a disability, to pay their council tax bills.
  • You may be eligible for a complete or partial Council Tax Reduction if you are pension age and receive pension credit OR have income and capital under a certain amount. There are also separate discounts for people with disabilities.
  • The reduction you are entitled to depends on your situation and specific Local Authority. 
  • Apply for Council Tax Reduction on GOV.UK straight away, or inform the Local Authority you intend to make an application.

What is Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction (CTR) is a benefit to help those on lower incomes, including those over retirement age, to pay their council tax bills. Making council tax payments manageable can help older people, or those who have a disability, remain at home.

Council Tax Reduction is worked out differently depending on where you live. It might be a percentage discount of your council tax bill, a fixed discount, or a complete payment of your council tax bill. 

It is also sometimes called council tax support or council tax relief. 

How much is Council Tax Reduction?

Each local council runs their own Council Tax Reduction schemes, meaning the amount of support available will be slightly different across the country.

The local authority will take a few different things into account when calculating an individual’s reduction:

  1. Your age and date of birth
  2. Type of benefits already received e.g. pension credits
  3. Your income and capital (if relevant)
  4. Your location and how much council tax you pay
  5. Number of people living in your property
  6. Physical or mental disability and any property modifications (if relevant)

Does Council Tax Reduction affect other benefits or payments?

A Council Tax Reduction should not affect any existing benefits. The amount you receive from other benefits may be taken into account when calculating your income for some types of reductions. 

The following payments are safeguarded and won’t be counted towards your income:

  1. Disability Living Allowance
  2. Personal Independence Payments
  3. Attendance Allowance
  4. Child Benefit

Live-in carers are also exempt from council tax whilst caring, so having a carer won’t affect your payments, and they will not have to pay council tax either. 

You should still be able to make an application for Council Tax Reduction if you are in council tax debt or arrears, providing you are working towards payment. Citizens’ Advice has some really useful advice on dealing with council tax arrears.

Who is eligible for Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction is for all types of people on lower incomes. Here, we will talk about the reduction for those over retirement age who are classed as ‘pensioners’, reductions for people with physical or mental disabilities, and other similar discounts. 

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If you’re not a pensioner or disabled

For Council Tax Reductions for anyone else on a lower income, you can find more detailed information on the gov.uk website.

Pensioner’s Council Tax Reduction

Being a pensioner simply means you’ve reached the pension age where you would be entitled to claim for Pension Credit – whether you’ve claimed or not. Your pension age is based on gender and date of birth – if you’re not sure whether you qualify, you should check your State Pension Age.

There are some rules for how local authorities look at pensioner’s entitlement to reductions. This will mainly take into account whether you already get Pension Credit and which part of Pension Credit you qualify for.

Remember, Pension Credit is split into two different types and this will affect how much Council Tax Reduction you are entitled to.

Council Tax Reduction and Guaranteed Pension Credit

Council Tax Reduction and Savings Pension Credit

If you have a savings part, the local authority will look at your income and capital to work out your Council Tax Reduction.

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Can you still get Council Tax Reduction if you don’t receive Pension Credit?

If you don’t receive Pension Credit, you can still apply for Council Tax Reduction. In this case, the local authority will work out your weekly income (including your partner’s income, if applicable), and your capital. They’ll use similar rules as if you are on the savings part of pension credit (see above). They will then decide if and how much you are entitled to.  

Can disabled people get Council Tax Reduction?

Council tax support is available for people of any age, who have a severe mental or physical disability. This may also apply if you have had to make home adaptations (link to the /homeadaptations/ here) due to disability or live in a larger property than needed due to the need to have additional space for equipment or a wheelchair.

You qualify for the Disability Reduction Scheme if anyone living in the property is registered as ‘substantially and permanently disabled’. This depends on whether you have:

You may also qualify if you have had to leave a property empty due to long-term stay at a care facility or hospital. 

You’ll usually be entitled to a partial or full reduction, or you might be eligible to drop down by one band of council tax, depending on your level of need, property modifications and where you are living. 

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Council Tax Reductions and dementia

If you have dementia, or live with someone else who does, you’ll be exempt from council tax altogether. The same also applies if you’re living in a care home.

Other options for reducing Council Tax

There is also a 25% council tax discount for people living alone, or a sole adult in a property who is eligible to pay council tax. You can find more information on this here

How can I apply for Council Tax Reduction?

Before applying

It’s a good idea to have the following information to hand. This will make it faster and easier to submit your application in one sitting:

National Insurance Number 

Bank account details with income and savings info

Details of any disabilities or conditions you have

The application process

You can apply for yourself, or apply for someone else if they lack full capacity. Here’s how it works.

1

Inform your local authority

If you wish, you can tell the local authority you want to apply before you fill in an application form, either on the phone or in person. This might be the case if you are waiting on some information you need for the application, or want to start applying quickly.

You can find the contact details for your local authority on the application page – simply type in your postcode. The local authority can backdate your claim to when you first told them you wanted to apply. You should send the completed application form within one month after this.

2

Apply on the Government website

You can start the process to apply for Council Tax Reduction on gov.uk. It will direct you to the relevant page on your local council’s website based on your postcode, which will tell you what you need to do next. You should apply in the same way for all types of reductions.

3

Receive decision

If you’re accepted, as a pensioner, you can also ask for the Council Tax Reduction to be backdated by up to three months, as long as you meet the conditions in that time. If you have a disability, this can be backdated up to one month.

More information about the decision

Your local authority will make a decision within 14 days of receiving all the evidence, and will send you a written confirmation of the decision. This should include information on how the council tax reduction has been worked out. 

If you think something is wrong, you can request a fuller written statement of reasons for the decision within one month of receiving it.

If you want to appeal the decision, you can write to the local authority, listing out what you think is wrong in the calculation or decision. They must consider this and respond in writing.


How is a Council Tax Reduction applied?

The Local Authority will apply the amount of reduction straight to your Council Tax Account, which reduces the amount of Council Tax you have to pay. You’ll receive a new bill showing the new payment amounts. 


What happens to Council Tax Reduction my circumstances change?

You should tell the local authority about any of the following changes, within 21 days of them happening:

  1. Changes to the level of disability or care needed for a disabled person
  2. Changes in Pension Credit entitlement 
  3. Any changes involving people living in your house as non-dependents
  4. Any absence from your home, if this is over 13 weeks
  5. If you’re on the pension savings credit only, you should report any changes in who lives in your household including any dependents, changes to your capital that could take it over the maximum amount of £16,000, and any changes to the income or capital of a partner not already taken into account in your pension credits.
5. Winter Fuel Payments – Money to help pay your fuel bills

Quick summary

  • The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual benefit to help those over retirement age, to pay their household heating costs during the colder months.
  • It is available for those over retirement age, who meet certain UK residence criteria.
  • It can be worth between £100-£300 per year depending on your circumstances.
  • You should receive the payment automatically if you receive other benefits, but you might need to make a claim using this form, or via phone on 0800 731 0160 or textphone 0800 731 0464.

What is the Winter Fuel Payment?

The Winter Fuel Payment is a benefit to help those over retirement age, to pay their household heating costs during the colder months. It’s an annual payment made during winter. 

Help with household bills can help older people remain safely and comfortably at home.

Who is eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment?

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment you’ll need to:

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Live on the continent?

You might also qualify if you live in an EEA (European Economic Area) country during the qualifying week and have a genuine link with the UK, such as family or work.

You won’t usually qualify if:

If you qualify, you’ll usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you receive the State Pension or another benefit, such as Pension Credit (/pensioncredit/), but not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support or Universal Credit.

If you believe you qualify but you don’t automatically get paid, you can make a claim.

When does the Winter Fuel Payment apply?

The qualifying week for determining eligibility for each year is usually around September, and the one-off payments are made in November or December. You’ll be told whether you qualify after the qualifying week, and how much you will get.

How much is the Winter Fuel Payment?

It’s a one-off payment of between £100-£300 per year.  You will get less individually if you live with other people who also qualify for the payment.

65-80 years oldover 80 years old
You’re the only person in your property who qualifies£200£300
You qualify and live with someone under-80 who qualifies£100£200
You qualify and live with someone over-80 who qualifies£100£150
You qualify and live in a care home, but do not get relevant benefits*£100£150
You’re the only person in your property who qualifies, and you get one of the relevant benefits*£200£300
*Relevant Benefits: Pension Credit; Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA); Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); Income Support

Does the Winter Fuel Payment affect other benefits or payments?

Receiving the following benefits can affect how much Winter Fuel Payment you are entitled to: Pension Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and Income Support. However, receiving the payment should not impact the amount you receive from your other benefits.

How can I apply for Winter Fuel Payment?

If you’ve never received Winter Fuel Payment before, and are not receiving any relevant benefits or have deferred your state pension, you might not receive the payment automatically. You may, therefore, need to make a claim. Once you have made the claim once, you should receive the benefits in future years automatically. You can only make a claim after August 1st for the following winter.

Before you apply

As with the rest of the benefits we’ve already run through, having the right things to-hand makes the application much less stressful.

National Insurance Number

Date of marriage, if applicable

Bank account details

The application process

1

Check you’re not already receiving Winter Fuel Payments

If you receive relevant benefits, you should get the payment automatically. So, before taking the time to apply for Winter Fuel Payments, you should double check you aren’t already.

2

Check your eligibility

You should be retirement age (over 65) based on your date of birth and meet some UK residence criteria. You can double-check your eligibility on gov.uk

3

Apply online or on the phone

If you don’t get the payment automatically, You can make a claim via email using this form, or via phone on 0800 731 0160 or textphone 0800 731 0464.

How is the Winter Fuel Payment paid?

It will be a direct payment into your account, made in November or December. If you receive other regular benefit payments, it may be paid at the same time as these.

If the money is not paid into your account by 13 January 2021, you should call your specific benefits office using the details on your confirmation letter.

If you’ve claimed Winter Fuel Payments before and you receive other benefits, you’ll need to contact the office paying your other benefits to report a change of circumstances.  


What happens to the Winter Fuel Payment if my circumstances change?

You can contact:

If you do not get any of these benefits or a State Pension, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre via phone on 0800 731 0160 or textphone 0800 731 0464.

You should report any change of circumstances as soon as possible, as these can affect how much Winter Fuel Payment you’re entitled to. This might include if you stop getting a benefit, move house, or go into residential care.

6. Cold Weather Payments – Extra help during very cold weather

Quick summary

  • The Cold Weather Payment is a benefit to help those on lower incomes to pay their household heating costs, when the temperature drops over winter.
  • It is available during winter for those on certain benefits or payments; whenever the temperature drops below 0°C for a week or more.
  • It is worth £25 for each week of cold weather.
  • You should receive the payment automatically along with your other qualifying benefits, but if you don’t you can get in touch with either your local pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office – or the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 9344.

What is the Cold Weather Payment?

The Cold Weather Payment is a benefit to help those on lower incomes to pay their household heating costs, when the temperature drops in the winter. 

Cold weather is when the average temperature has been‚ or is forecast to be‚ 0°C or below for 7 days or more. This is determined by the Met Office and their measurements.

Winter is classed as anytime between November 1st – 31st March. 

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Getting ready for cold weather

The Met Office issues Cold Weather Alerts to help you prepare for cold weather, ice or snow. You can check here for alerts.

Who is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?

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How much goes unclaimed?

There are up to one million people entitled for both Cold Weather Payments and Warm Home Discounts that fail to claim each year. That’s around £150m of unclaimed money. A simple call to the DWP can help you make sure you’re not one of them.

How much is the Cold Weather Payment?

If you’re eligible, you’ll get £25 per week for each seven day period of cold weather, between 1 November to 31 March each year.

Does the Cold Weather Payment affect other benefits or payments?

Whether or not you receive other benefits or payments will affect if you’re entitled to the Cold Weather Payment. As noted above, there are certain benefits that impact your ability to claim it. However, receiving the payment should not impact the amount you receive from your other benefits. 

How is the Cold Weather Payment paid?

You’ll be paid after each seven-day period of cold weather and you should receive your payment within 14 working days. Payments will be made into the same bank account as your regular benefits or payments.

How can I apply for Cold Weather Payment?

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re already receiving either Guarantee or Savings Pension Credit. If this is the case, you should automatically receive a Cold Weather Payment when the weather gets cold.

1

Check you’re not already registered for Cold Weather Payments

If you receive relevant benefits, you should get the payment automatically when there is a cold-weather spell. You can check by getting in touch in with the DWP by calling 0800 328 9344.

2

Get in touch with the DWP

If you don’t get the payment automatically, you can get in touch with either your local pension centre or Job Centre Plus office. Or, if you receive Universal Credit you can call the helpline on 0800 328 9344.

3

Receive payments automatically

Anytime between 1 November to 31 March, you can check if your area qualifies for a Cold Weather payment by using the Department of Work & Pensions postcode checker.

How is the Cold Weather Payment paid?

You’ll be paid after each seven-day period of cold weather and you should receive your payment within 14 working days. Payments will be made into the same bank account as your regular benefits or payments.

What happens to Cold Weather Payments if my circumstances change?

You’ll need to keep your details and any relevant changes updated for your other benefits or payments. This could include changes in employment or income, living arrangements, or long-term hospital admissions. Changes to your other benefits might also affect your Cold Weather Payments.

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