Benefits you're entitled to: the over 60s
There's one thing we all know about benefits: they're about to be cut to the bone. In future, only the most needy will be entitled to government assistance, and even they may well receive less support than before.
These changes are on the near horizon - but at the moment, many generous benefits still remain in place. Yet a huge chunk of this cash goes unclaimed: the most recent estimates at the beginning of this year put the amount at £16.8 million.
So it's worth getting to grips with what's available now and what will be around in the future - and what you may be entitled to.
The amount of pension you receive and the age at which you'll get it will depend on your circumstances.
How it works...
Men can receive a state pension at 65, but between 2018 and 2020 this will gradually rise to 66, with further rises due later. The women's pension age has already started to rise from 60, and will reach 65 in 2016. It will then rise in line with men's pensions.
To qualify for the basic state pension you'll need to have built up 30 'qualifying years' of national insurance contributions. If you retired after April 2010, you may get credit for those years you didn't work due to caring responsibilities or if you were claiming certain benefits.
The basic state pension for 2012/13 is £107.45. If you've built up some years of NI contributions but not enough to qualify for the full state pension, the amount you receive will be calculated by the number of qualifying years.
Additional State Pension
You may also be entitled to the additional state pension if you've been working, or caring for a child under 12 or other dependants, or claiming particular benefits.
You'll not be entitled to the additional pension if you've 'contracted out'. The amount you receive will depend on qualifying years and when they were.
There are two kinds of credit: the guarantee credit, which could top up your income to £137.35 (£209.70 if you have a partner), and the savings credit, which rewards those with modest private pensions savings. This can be up to £20.52 a week (£27.09 a week if you have a partner).
You may be entitled to either type, or both.
The amount will depend on your weekly income and how much you've saved. It will take into account earnings, pension income and some benefits, and will reduce by £1 a week for every £500 (or part of £500) of savings or investments you have over £10,000, excluding the value of your home.
These benefits include concessionary coach travel for over-60s; a winter fuel allowance of between £100 and £300 this year; and attendance allowance for the disabled.
A scheme originally established in 1944 to provide protection against sickness and unemployment as well as helping fund the National Health Service (NHS) and state benefits. NI contributions are compulsory and based on a person’s earnings above a certain threshold. There are several classes of NI, but which one an individual pays depends on whether they are employed, self-employed, unemployed or an employer. Payment of Class 1 contributions by employees gives them entitlement to the basic state pension, the additional state pension, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and bereavement benefits. To qualify for the state pension, individuals need 30 years’ of full NI contributions.