State Benefits

Every year in the United Kingdom over five billion pounds in benefit income goes unclaimed by older people.

This quick guide identifies the main benefits that are available to older people and provides a brief explanation of the eligibility criteria for each and information on how to apply.

This guide covers the following key benefits for older people:

  • The State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Winter Fuel Payment

State Pension

Many people do not think of their State Pension as a benefit, but it is paid by the Department of Work and Pensions and is based on your National Insurance contributions or credits. It is also a benefit that must be claimed, it is not paid automatically.

The full basic State Pension for people that reached pensionable age after April 2016 is £168.60 per week. The ‘Category B’ State Pension, also known as the ‘Married woman’s pension’ is £77.45 per week.

You can claim your State Pension by contacting the claims line on 0800 731 7898.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is a means-tested, nontaxable benefit that tops up your income to a guaranteed amount every week. To qualify for Guarantee Credit:  

  • You must live in Great Britain  
  • You or your partner must have reached State Pension age  
  • You must satisfy the relevant means test

The means test required you to have an income of less than £167.25, for a single person, or £255.25, for a couple. These amounts are increased if you having certain housing costs, are a carer or are classed as ‘severely disabled’.

Your savings will also be taken into account, the first £10,000 is disregarded by any amounts above this are translated into income at a rate of £1 for every £500 you have in savings above £10,000. For example, if you had savings of £14,500 then this is 9 x £500, meaning you are treated as having an extra £9 per week of income.

By being eligible for Pension Credit, you are also entitled to full Housing Benefit (if you rent) and full Council Tax Reduction (if you are liable to pay it).

You can claim Pension Credit by contacting the claims line on 0800 99 1234.

Attendance Allowance

This is a non-means tested, non-taxable allowance for people aged 65 years or over who are physically or mentally disabled and have care or supervision needs. However, you do not need to be in receipt of any support to claim Attendance Allowance.

You can get Attendance Allowance if you’re 65 or over and the following apply:  

  • You have a physical disability (including sensory disability, eg blindness), a mental disability (including learning difficulties), or both  
  • Your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety  
  • You satisfy the disability tests and have done so for at least 6 months

There are two rates:  

  • Lower rate £58.70 per week is for people who need help by day or night.  
  • Higher rate £87.65 per week is for people who need help by both day and night.

You can make a claim for Attendance Allowance by contacting the claims line on 0345 605 6055

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is a non means-tested payment made once a year to every person over the age of 65.  You were eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment in 2018/19 if:

  • You were born on or before 5 November 1953
  • You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 17 to 23 September 2018 – this is called the ‘qualifying week’

Payments are between £100 and £300 and will depend on your age, whether you live alone and whether you are in receipt of any means-tested benefits.

Your Winter Fuel Payment should be made automatically, so long as you are in receipt of another State Benefit. If this is not the case, you can contact the claim line on 0800 731 0160.

Further reading

The above benefits are only for people that have reached State Pension age, however there are other benefits available to people of any age – such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. You can read more about these in our factsheet on Benefits for people of retirement age.