Life after retirement should offer us all our golden years. The carrot at the end of the stick of a lifetime of work is the opportunity to relax, spending time with family and loved ones.
Sadly, almost two million UK pensioners live in poverty as the reality of life without a regular income begins to bite. With this in mind, we’re keen to ensure that all older people are fully aware of the benefits packages available to them.
A state pension is obviously a given, but are you aware of the other packages that could make your autumn years more comfortable? Age UK’s Benefits Calculator will reveal some answers, and this guide will help you pinpoint how to access everything that you are entitled to.
Please note – this article refers only individuals old enough to withdraw a government-sanctioned pension. For guidance on general benefits available within the UK through Universal Credit, click here.
The State Pension is the regular payment that you receive from the government to sustain you throughout your retirement.
- The UK State Pension eligibility age is subject to change, dependent on your date of birth. If in doubt, you should use the government’s official State Pension Age Calculator. The sum of your state pension depends on how much money you have contributed to National Insurance through your working life.
- Widows and widowers may be eligible for the pension payments that would been attributed to their deceased spouse, assuming they have not re-married. This can be especially critical to the spouse of a military veteran.
- If you are not yet retired, contact the Future State Pension division of DWP for insights into what you can expect to receive. This is the time to make plans – and queries, if you consider the amount to be too low.
Not all older people are aware of this scheme, which supersedes traditional low-income payments such as Housing Benefit once an individual reaches pension age.
- Pension Credit is an additional top-up payment for any older adult on a low income that provides similar perks to working age income support credits, including housing benefit, council tax reduction and free NHS dental treatment.
- Turn2Us, the charity that specialises in helping those experiencing financial hardship, has more information on this credit.
- Rights4Seniors can provide direct assistance to pensioners based in Northern Ireland who have queries about Pension Credit – or any other government-sanctioned benefit.
- If you find the government’s website confusing and are unsure if you qualify for Pension Credit, Which? provides a detailed and easily understandable guide.
- If you are a visual learner, take a look at this video from Independent Age. This will explain the basics of Pension Credit.
In addition to your state pension, you should have access to a private pension pot arranged by your employers – ask the company for information on this if you are unsure.
- Automatic enrolment into a workplace pension scheme is a legal requirement of any employee in the UK. Typically, these pension pots can be drawn from at any age beyond 55 years.
- This guide will tell you exactly how much money your employer should have contributed to your workplace pension.
- You may wish to seek legal advice about your workplace pension. If that’s the case, contact The Law Centres Network. Here, you will receive free legal counsel – and, if necessary, representation. If you were formerly a member of a trade union, it also pays to contact your representative.
Fuel and Heating Benefits
This scheme is designed to assist pensioners with the ever-increasing costs of heating their homes during the coldest months of the year.
- Winter Fuel Payments may total up to £300, tax-free, if you are eligible – the criteria of which changes annually.
- Cold Weather Payments are also available if you are claiming pension credit.
- The Warm Home Discount Scheme is automatically applied to all eligible older individuals by participating providers. This is not a direct payment, but a reduction on your fuel bill.
- The Energy Saving Trust, Save on Energy and Simple Energy Advice websites offer plenty of advice on how to reduce heating bills in the home.
- The Affordable Warmth Obligation ensures that improvements to a property can be made to those that need them most. If you live in social housing, request an Energy Performance Certificate. If your home has a performance rating of E, F or G, you may be eligible for government-financed assistance.
Assistance with Dementia
Dementia, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, is a common concern for older adults. It’s only natural that, as we age, we become a little more forgetful. While it’s true that with age comes wisdom, there is also a lifetime of experience to sift through. It pays to be alert to the warning signs of dementia, however, and seek help as early as possible. While dementia cannot be cured, its impact can be slowed with early intervention.
- The World Health Organisation and NHS both list the common symptoms and warning signs of dementia, aiding the recognition of any concerns. The Social Care Institute of Excellence also discussed this in more detail.
- If you believe that somebody you with or care for is displaying signs of dementia, conduct this assessment from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
- Elder and SuperCarers are resources of advice and support for those living with dementia.
- Dementia does not only impact the individual living with the condition. It also affects caregivers and loved ones. Help Guide and the Family Caregiver Alliance discuss how somebody with dementia should be cared for, and how undesirable or challenging behaviours can be managed.
- Choosing to care for somebody with dementia is a big commitment. Alzheimer’s.net lists five fundamental, non-negotiable qualities that you must possess to take on this challenge. Britain’s own charity The Alzheimer’s Society also provides ideas and suggestions on how to minimise outbursts of inappropriate behaviour.
- There will likely come a time that professional assistance is required to aid somebody with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association has drawn up practice recommendations. If you are struggling to find appropriate help, consult The Royal College of Nursing, who have collated an array of appropriate aides.
- There is no harm is asking for help while caring for somebody with dementia. This guide from Patient is written for healthcare professionals, but it shines a light on what you can expect from doctors, nurses and other avenues of support.
Medical and Lifestyle Discounts
Older adults are entitled to several discounts and complimentary services throughout the country.
- NHS medical prescriptions are free to anybody aged 60 or over. Note that this does not apply to dental treatment unless you receive Pension Credit.
- Eyesight tests and hearing tests are free to anybody aged 60 or over.
- The TV License is free to anybody aged 75 or over – for now. This will change in the future, so keep an eye on this legislation. If you are registered blind, you can claim a 50% discount on your TV License fee.
Always be sure to query about age-related concessions when attending a recreational activity, too. Most businesses – whether cinemas, football stadia, leisure centres or anything else – will provide a specialist pricing structure.
Personal Independence Payments (PIP), formerly known as the Disability Living Allowance, is not available to anybody over the age of 64, but if you are living with a disability you may be eligible for certain other payments.
- Attendance Allowance is an extra payment made to any older adult with a registered disability, in order to fund the extra care they may need. Eligibility may also qualify you for pension credit, and other benefits.
- Carer’s Allowance remains available to senior carers, including spouses that live with somebody that requires full-time care.
Some rail providers offer complimentary travel to older travellers at their discretion. Check with your local rail network for more information. There are, however, two nationwide travel concession schemes active in the UK.
- A complimentary bus pass is available to anybody living in England who had reached the female state pension age, regardless of gender. In Wales and Scotland, anybody aged 60 or over is eligible.
- The Senior Railcard is a personalised concession card that, for a one-off payment of £30, provides a discount of 1/3 on all national rail services to any passenger aged 60 or over.
- Passport renewals are free to anybody aged 88 or over.
- If you are based in London, the Older Person’s Freedom Pass affords even greater flexibility. Anybody aged 65 or older and a residence in London is eligible for this pass, which offers free travel throughout the capital – including the tube – and free bus travel nationwide. Those that just miss out on the age cut-off should consider a 60+ Oyster Card. This, too, offers free travel throughout London for a one-off administration fee of £20.
- Pensioners in Northern Ireland have a range of concessionary passes open to them. Check out NI Direct for a full list. Transport Scotland offers similar advice for intrepid travellers north of the border, while Traveline Cymru covers Wales.
- If you’re spending your golden years exploring the world, be sure to investigate TripSavvy’s guide to concessions on European railway discounts. It’s the most relaxing way to travel!
Loneliness can be lethal for older people. Thankfully, there are a number of charities dedicated to offering friending services. These bodies will ensure that older people that live alone receive regular house calls from a friendly face. Popular examples include:
There are numerous charities across the UK that offer financial support in your later years. Whilst some may offer funding, others offer support services or short-term loans of essential equipment.
Two of the most well-known are The British Red Cross and Age Concern. Even if these organisations are not able to help you directly, they will have advice on other support networks to turn to.
Also known Age UK, this national charity was founded specifically to help older generations. The organisation works as a central funding source for many of the UK’s charities, providing grants and funding for its partners.
These Friends of Age UK groups work at a local level, offering services and funding that will vary depending on where you live.
If you’re looking for individual financial help, or you’re part of a small group needing support, you cannot access grants directly from Age UK. Instead, you can either email
The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is one of the country’s best-known organisations. Though they perform a wealth of work abroad, the organisation also provides care and support for people in the UK. The British Red Cross doesn’t actually provide grants. Instead, it offers free services to those in need.
Access to mobility aids can have a significant impact on any older person’s quality of life. Recently returning home from a hospital stay, for example, will be considerably less troublesome with the right apparatus.
The Red Cross offer short-term loans of items like commodes, walking sticks, walkers, grab rails and wheelchairs. These could be invaluable as you recover from ill health or look for a longer-term solution. For information on services in your area, click here.
Support at Home
These trained carers provide physical and emotional support. They’ll be on call to help rehabilitate people after hospital stays, or lend an extra hand so you won’t be admitted to hospital in the first place.
Other Sources of Help and Advice
- Age UK – and sister charities Age Scotland and Age NI – are one-stop shops for all matters relating to life as a senior person in Britain. You may know this charity by its former name, Help the Aged.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau is always on-hand to answer any queries you may have that relate to the benefits available to older adults.
- The Money Advice Service can provide free advice on all financial affairs, including benefit entitlement of older people in the UK.
- Friends of the Elderly may be able to offer financial support for older people on low incomes. If not, they’ll certainly work with individuals to improve their circumstances.
- HelpAge International fight for the rights of older generations all over the world.
As we all grow older, it’s only natural that we fight to retain our independence. This does not mean that opportunities for financial assistance should go unclaimed, though. You have paid into The System for your entire life. Now is the opportunity to reclaim any help that you are entitled to.
With so many resources discussed throughout this article, you’d be forgiven for growing overwhelmed. Here is a summary of the useful links that have been profiled.
- Action on Hearing Loss – actiononhearingloss.org.uk
- Age UK – ageuk.org.uk
- Befriend – befriend.org.uk
- Campaign of End Loneliness – campaigntoendloneliness.org
- Carers Trust – carers.org
- Citizens Advice Bureau – citizensadvice.org.uk
- Elder – elder.org
- Energy Saving Trust – energysavingtrust.org.uk
- Family Caregiver Alliance – caregiver.org
- Friends of the Elderly – fote.org.uk
- HelpAge International – helpage.org
- Independent Age – independentage.org
- Law Centres Network – lawcentres.org.uk
- The Money Advice Service – moneyadviceservice.org.uk
- NHS – nhs.uk
- NI Direct – nidirect.gov.uk
- The Pensions Regular – thepensionsregulator.gov.uk
- People First – peoplefirstinfo.org.uk
- Re-Engage – reengage.org.uk
- Red Cross – redcross.org.uk
- Rights4Seniors – rights4seniors.net
- Save on Energy – saveonenergy.com
- The Senior Railcard – senior-railcard.co.uk
- Transport Scotland – transport.gov.scot/concessionary-travel
- Traveline Cymru – traveline.cymru
- Turn2Us – turn2us.org.uk
- UK Government – gov.uk
- Which? – which.co.uk
- World Health Organisation – who.int