Benefits for older people

Billions of pounds in benefits go unclaimed every year. Older people, in particular, often miss out on what they should be getting due to pride or a lack of information or access to advice. People aged 60 or over may be able to get state pension; pension credit; housing benefit; council tax benefit; winter fuel payment; attendance allowance; disability living allowance; carer’s allowance.

State pension is a weekly income, normally paid at pension age. It is usually based on the national insurance contribution record of the pensioner or their spouse/civil partner. It is taxable. The pension age is 65 for men (increasing to 66 by 2020) and is gradually increasing between now and 2020 from 60 to 66 for women. It is possible to defer taking a pension and this might have tax advantages if otherwise retirement pension would push someone who is still working into a higher tax band. Deferring your pension is also a form of saving that is very secure.

Pension credit is a benefit with two parts. The first part PC guarantee credit is a means tested top up to a pensioner’s other income to ensure that nobody over the age of 61 years of age drops below the poverty line. The age at which you are entitled to PC guarantee credit is increasing in line with the pension age referred to above. The second part, PC savings credit, gives extra cash to people aged 65 and over who have modest incomes and have made savings for their retirement. Pension Credit does not have any upper capital limit at the moment so if your income is modest but you do have several thousand pounds in savings you may still be entitled.

Housing benefit is paid by the local council to help people who live in rented accommodation meet the costs of their rent. It is means tested. If you have more than £16,000 in savings then you are not likely to receive housing benefit.

Council tax benefit is also available to persons on a low income who generally have less than £16,000 in savings. In addition you may receive council tax benefit if you live alone; or if a child or adult living in the home is disabled.

Winter fuel payment is a one-off grant made each year to pensioner households to help with the cost of fuel. It is paid if you have reached the minimum State Pension age for women during the qualifying week which is the week beginning with the third Monday in September. The amount of the payment varies between £100 and £300 depending on your age and the arrangements within your household.

Attendance allowance is paid to people who have an illness or disability which means they need help throughout the day and or night to look after themselves or they need someone to keep an eye on them to keep them safe. Claimants must be aged 65 or over to claim attendance allowance. If they are under 65 then they may be able to claim disability allowance. The benefit is not means tested, it is not taxable and it is not based on your national insurance contributions. You are entitled to the benefit if you need help. The higher rate of benefit if presently £77.45 per week and the lower rate is £51.85 per week

Carer’s allowance is a benefit paid to someone who spends at least 35 hours a week looking after someone receiving attendance allowance or disability living allowance. There are certain qualifying conditions for example you must not earn more than £100 per week from other employment or be in full time education.

If you would like help to claim these benefits then contact Helen Stewart at Dixon Stewart on 01425 279222 or on or call 0800 731 7898 (state pension) or 0800 99 1234 (pension credit) your local council (housing benefit and council tax benefit) 08459 151515 (winter fuel payment) 0800 882200 (benefit enquiry line for other benefits)