Are you struggling to make ends meet? You'll be surprised at the financial support on offer in the lead-up to retirement and beyond.
According to older people's charity, Age UK, nearly three million people over 65 are struggling financially, while government figures show that 1.9 million pensioners are living on a low income. Despite this, the benefits targeted at older people are the most likely to go unclaimed.
The government estimates that up to 1.4 million pensioners do not claim one of the most important benefits for the retired - Pension Credit - with up to £3.3 billion unclaimed every year. The average amount unclaimed is significant – £2,000 per family, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Other benefits that also go unclaimed by older people include housing benefit and council tax benefit.
David Samson, welfare benefits expert at the Turn2us benefits advice service, run by the Elizabeth Finn Trust, says that many pensioners are not aware of the financial support available to them. “For example, they may be getting their state pension but not be aware that they are entitled to pension credit,” he says. “The rules for pension credit are more generous than the rules for working people, so they may have an entitlement that they don’t realise.”
"It’s important to get the message out there as we know that claiming the correct benefits can make a huge difference to quality of life."
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, adds: “Despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5 billion in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives.”
The benefits that are on offer change as you get older – with some available to people as young as 50 years old. Help is available to ensure that you claim what you are entitled to.
Here is an overview of what you can claim when you reach 65 and over.
Benefits for the over-65s
If you are over 65 and need care, you may be eligible for attendance allowance.
This is paid at two rates depending on how often you need care. The lower rate is £57.30 a week. You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day or night. The higher rate is £85.60 a week. You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day and night or if you are terminally ill.
You must normally have been ill for six months (unless you are terminally ill) before you can get attendance allowance. Phone the attendance allowance helpline for a claim form on 0800 731 0122.
Annual flu jab
The flu jab is free every winter once you reach the age of 65. You don't need a GP referral for free flu jabs in pharmacies and the injections are usually available between September and February.
All over-75s are eligible for a free TV licence, but you must apply for this. You'll need to provide your date of birth, address, current TV licence number and your national insurance number (or a photocopy of your passport, driving licence or birth certificate). If you share your house with someone younger than 75, you can still apply for a free licence but it must be in your name. The website at tvlicensing.co.uk has more details.
- Visit Turn2us.org.uk for a benefits calculator or call the freephone helpline on 0808 802 2000.
- Contact Ageuk.org.uk for advice specifically aimed at older people or call the freephone number 0800 169 2081.