A Detailed Guide to Pensioner Benefits and Allowances

By Claire Mitchell April 2017


Claire Mitchell

When my partner and I first created this site we wanted to provide homeowners with a realistic price guide for home improvement projects so they can avoid businesses that overcharge.

We decided very earlier on that would create some help guides specifically for pensioners and also for ex-forces personnel.

Our guide to benefits and financial help for war veterans has proven to be very popular, you can explore it here.

There are dozens of benefits and other sources of financial assistance available to pensioners but unfortunately, there is no single point of contact or application.

That is why we created this resource.

On this page we will:

  • show you how to save money using government and council discounts
  • reveal where to find a very helpful benefits calculator
  • look at grants and allowances and how to apply for them
  • explore care home costs

Some of the content on this page may seem obvious but we wanted to cover everything as there are many people in the UK who were born abroad and might not be aware of their entitlements.

TV Licence Discount

If you or anyone living at your address is over the age of 75, a free tv licence can be obtained. This will cover televisions in every room of the house, regardless of how old the other occupants are.

If you are 74 years of age, then you can apply for a short tv licence that ends on your 75th birthday, at which time you would then be issued a free licence. This means you are not paying for a licence beyond your 75th birthday.

You can also get a licence for £7.50  if you live in a residential care home and:

you are 65 or older

or

you are disabled

You could also get a 50% discount if you’re registered blind or live with someone who is. The licence has to be in the blind person’s name.

See this page for information about free or discounted tv licences.

Winter Fuel Payments Vs Cold Weather Payments

Winter fuel payments are paid to all those that qualify regardless of the weather and temperature.

You could get between £100 and £300 per winter season.

To qualify for the year 2016-17 you need to be born before the 5th May 1953 and lived in the UK throughout the week of 19th to 25th September 2016.

You may be able to claim the allowance if you live in the EEA but have links to the UK.

See this page for more info.

Cold weather payments are different to Winter Fuel Payment and are only offered if the temperature drops to or below freezing for 7 consecutive days.

You can receive £25 per 7 day period between November and March.

See the .gov website for more information about this allowance.

The Rights to Benefits website has more detailed information about eligibility for these allowances.

Council Tax

In 2013 council tax was decentralised and is now handled at a local level with individual councils deciding what discounts can be offered.

The most common discounts are a blind persons allowance and single occupancy discounts, which are usually up to 25%.

In some cases, councils may agree to a single occupancy discount if your partner spends a considerable amount of time in a care home.

Each council will have a different threshold for how much time the person must be a resident of the care home.

Prescriptions – 3 Ways You Can Save Money

1) Prepay

Prepay prescription certificates are available from the NHS website, these can significantly reduce the cost of prescriptions if you require more than one prescription per month.

For example:

If you require two prescriptions per month then a prepay certificate would save you a whopping £90 over the course of one year, compared to individual prescriptions.

Sign up here and prepay to save money.

2) Buy Over the Counter

Many drugs that are prescribed can also be purchased over the counter for less than the cost of a prescription.

Don’t forget; the prescription is a flat fee for all drugs. It includes expensive drugs and cheap drugs all for the same price.

The Money Saving Expert website lists two examples of drugs that are cheaper if purchased over the counter:

Aqueous cream 500mm: prescription cost – £8.60 and over the counter – £4.39
Hydrocortisone (1%) 15g tube: prescription cost – £8.60 and over the counter – £3.19

3) Free Prescriptions

You can get free prescriptions on the NHS if:

  • You’re under the age 16 or over 60.
  • You’re in full-time education and between 16-18 years old.
  • You’re pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months (you will need a Maternity Exemption certificate).
  • You or your partner currently get income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, or a pension credit guarantee credit.
  • You get a war pension and have an exemption certificate.
  • You’re an inpatient with the NHS.
  • You have a valid Medical Exemption Certificate

Financial Support For Carers

Many husbands, wives and partners do not see themselves as carers if they have been looking after a loved one for many years, but they could be eligible for a carer’s allowance if they spend 35 hours or more looking after a relative.

You could get up to £62.70 per week but how much, if any, money that you are awarded may have an effect on other benefits you receive and you will need to pass an eligibility test first.

To check if you are eligible, visit this government website help page.

Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance

If you or a loved one need extra help through the day or night due to a disability then you could claim between £55.61 and £83.10 per week.

The NI Direct website has details such as eligibility criteria.

The attendance allowance is tax-free.

Bereavement Support Payments and Widowed Parent Allowance

If your partner died before 6th April you may be eligible for a Bereavement Payment of up to £2000. If you are looking after children then you also look into widowed parent payments.

Bereavement Payment (gov website)

Widowed Parent (gov website)

For deaths that occurred after the 6th April 2017 see this page for the new payment system.

Pension Credits

The state pension is currently £159.55 per week for a single person.

You can apply for a pension credit if you are eligible.

The government has created this handy pension calculator that we recommend.

Care Home Costs

On average, care home costs now exceed £750 per month and much more if nursing care is required.

The state will fund most of the costs if your assets, including property, are below £23250.

Those with assets above £23250 will be expected to fund their own care until their assets drop below this amount.

It is the responsibility of anyone currently in a care home to have their assets re evaluated as soon as their asset value drops to this level.

A shared property will not be taken into account unless ownership or part ownership has been transferred for the purposes of asset deprivation.

Asset deprivation is where the owner of the property or other asset sells or donates the asset for the purpose of avoiding care home fees. An example would be selling a property to a relative for considerably less than its market value.

The state can look back several years to see if any property, assets or cash have been transferred to a relative. If they deem that this was done to avoid care home fees, then the applicant will be billed the full cost.

However, wherever there are procedures there are legal loopholes.

We recommend speaking to a financial advisor who has experience of care home funding.

Questions you might want to ask:

  • How can I transfer an asset to a relative without falling foul of care home funding regulations?
  • If I transfer an asset for other reasons, how much time must pass before it’s outside the scope of care home funding consideration?
  • Can I enter into part ownership of my property with a relative to avoid care home fees and if so, how much time must pass until it’s outside the scope of care home funding?
  • Can I set up a business partnership with a relative and transfer some of my assets so I’m eligible for free or discounted care home funding?

The truth is that most councils are now very adept at locating assets during an eligibility test but there are genuine reasons why an asset might be transferred to a relative. Not every transfer is for the avoidance of care home fees.

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