If you’re around or above retirement age, there are a number of benefits for pensioners you could be claiming.
In addition to your state pension, which is based on your national Insurance contributions, you could be entitled to extra money to help with your heating in winter, free transport passes and other handy perks.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best benefits for over 60s.
State pension benefits
In the UK, both men and women are eligible to begin claiming their state pension at the age of 66.
The amount you’re entitled to depends on how many qualifying years of National Insurance (NI) payments you’ve accrued.
There are a number of different ways you can build up qualifying years, including:
- In employment, earning more than £183 per week from one employer
- Paying NI contributions on your self-employed income
- Claiming certain benefits for illness or disability, or if you’re a carer or unemployed, including Child Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Carer’s Allowance
- Paying voluntary NI contributions to make up for gaps in your record
Here’s what you could be entitled to claim:
- Basic state pension – If you were born on or before 6 April 1951, or 6 April 1953 if you’re a woman, and have at least 30 qualifying years, you could receive up to £134.25 per week.
- Additional state pension – This is also only available to those born before 6 April 1951, or 6 April 1953 if you’re a woman. There is no fixed amount, as it is determined by how many qualifying years you have (above the standard 30), your earnings and whether you topped up your basic state pension between 2015 and 2017. If you’re eligible, you’ll automatically be paid any extra with your basic state pension.
- Full state pension – If you have at least 35 qualifying years, you could receive up to £175.20 per week (based on the 20/21 financial year payments). This is only available to people born after 6 April 1951, or 6 April 1953 if you’re a woman.
- Pension credits – If your weekly income is less than £173.75, or £265.20 combined if you have a partner or spouse, and you have less than £10,000 in savings or investments, you could claim pension guarantee credits. You can claim if you’re over state pension age and under the threshold, regardless of whether your income comes from state pension, private pensions or employment.
- No National Insurance – It’s unlikely you won’t qualify for any government pension, as you can earn qualifying years through claiming state benefits, employment or by making additional voluntary payments. However, let’s say you’ve always been a stay-at-home parent or homemaker and you’ve relied on your partner’s high income. If an unfortunate event wipes out your private pension pots and savings, there are still options if you do not meet the 10 qualifying years threshold.
If you have a living partner or spouse and you both reached state pension age before 1 April 2016, you could claim up to £80.45. Your late partner’s NI record could also earn you up to £134.25 per week (but you’ll need to check you meet the rather complex requirements).
You may also be able to claim an Over 80 pension if you’re above the age of 80, which is a maximum of £80.70 per week.
It can be pretty complex trying to work out what you’re entitled to, so it’s best to check out the UK government website for more detailed information. Alternatively, you could speak to a financial adviser about your unique circumstances.
Free eye tests and dental care
There are lots of free or discounted services you can take advantage of as an older adult.
In the UK, everyone over the age of 60 gets free prescriptions and NHS eye tests.
You can also get free NHS dental treatment if you’re over 60 and claiming pension guarantee credits or other benefits if you’re under state pension age.
Free TV license
While all over 75s used to be entitled to a free TV licence, the rules changed in 2020.
Now, you can only get a free TV licence if you, or someone else in your household, is over 75 and claiming pension guarantee credits.
You can also get a free TV licence if you live in a care home. You don't need a TV licence if you never watch live on any channel, TV service or streaming service, or use BBC iPlayer.
If you have a severe sight impairment that means you’re registered blind, you can get a 50% discount regardless of your age.
And if your TV is black and white (rare as this is these days!), you’ll pay £53 instead of the normal £159 for a year’s TV licence.
Discounts on public transport
If you’re above state pension age in England, or over 60 in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can apply for a free bus pass.
In most parts of England, you can travel for free on buses from state pension age. You can also travel for free on some ferries and trains in Wales and Scotland once you reach the age of 60.
There are exceptions to this rule though, such as London’s 60+ Oyster photocard that allows you to travel for free on buses, tubes, trams and the Overground from age 60. If you’re not sure, check with your local council.
Help with heating your home
There are a number of benefits designed to help you stay warm through the winter, including:
- Winter Fuel Payment – If you receive any state pension, pension credits, JSA or other benefits, you’ll receive an automatic tax-free sum to help with extra heating costs. The amount depends on your age and who you live with, and you can also claim if you were born on or before 5 January 1954, regardless of whether you receive benefits.
- Cold Weather Payment – If the temperature is forecasted to be 0 degrees (or below) for seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March, you’ll get an extra £25 payment automatically deposited in your bank account.
- Warm Homes Discount Scheme – You may be entitled to a £140 deduction from your winter electricity bill. It should have been automatically deducted from your bill if you claim pension credits (or certain other means-tested benefits) and are with a supplier who has signed up to the government’s scheme. If you’re not sure about your eligibility, or you’re on a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go metre, you should get in touch with your supplier.
- Insulation and heating schemes – A number of companies have signed up to schemes that allow you to claim free insulation and heating improvements, such as a new boiler, to make sure your home is energy efficient. If you claim means-tested benefits like Pension Credits, or don’t have a working central heating system, you’re likely to be eligible regardless of your age.
Benefits for carers and disabled individuals
There are a number of ways to access financial support to help with disabilities, whether you’re disabled or you live with someone who has additional needs.
Many of these benefits aren’t age-specific, so you may be able to claim them even if you’re under state pension age.
Here are some of the most commonly claimed care-related benefits:
- Attendance Allowance – If you’re above state pension age and need someone’s help to look after yourself, you can claim Attendance Allowance. There are two rates, which are determined by the level of care you need, so you could receive either £59.70 or £89.15 per week if you have a physical or mental disability (or both).
You don’t have to have a carer in order to claim, though anyone who spends more than 35 hours per week looking after you could claim Carer’s Allowance too. Attendance Allowance could increase your eligibility for other benefits too.
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – To help cover the extra costs associated with living independently with a disability, you could get up to £151.40 per week. Now, existing DLA claimants are being transferred over to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), a similar scheme which was introduced to replace DLA. If you've had a PIP claim rejected, you can learn more about the mandatory reconsideration process here.
- Carer’s Allowance – If you spend a significant amount of time looking after someone else, you could claim Carer’s Allowance, regardless of your age and whether you live with them. To meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll need to:
- Spend at least 35 hours per week caring for someone who claims a disability benefit
- Earn less than £128 per week (though not from benefits like PIP)
Military pension benefits
There are also specific benefits available for Armed Forces veterans and their spouses.
- War Widow/Widower’s Pension – available to spouses or civil partners who died during a time of war or as a result of their time in the Armed Forces. You can find out more about claiming by contacting Veterans UK.
- War Disablement Pension – available to those injured or disabled as a result of their time in the Armed forces before 6 April 2005.
- Help with service-related medical costs – whether you’re of retirement age or not, you could receive financial assistance towards the cost of your treatment, if your condition or disability is directly related to your time in the Armed Forces.
If you’re wondering when you can retire, we’ve got plenty of other informative articles that can help you plan for the financial future.
Talk to a financial adviser about managing your money in retirement.