Retirement is supposed to be our golden years, akin to one long weekend. After all, isn’t that the reason why we work hard for the majority of our lives – in order to enjoy relaxing times with family and friends as we prepare to slow down Sadly, over a million UK pensioners are living poverty.
With this in mind, we’re keen to ensure that each and every OAP in the country is 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 identify as OAPs. For guidance on general benefits available within the UK, 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.
Not all OAPs 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 extra top-up payment for any OAP 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.
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 enrollment 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.
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 OAPs by participating providers.
- The Energy Saving Trust website offers plenty of advice on how to reduce heating bills in the home.
Medical and Lifestyle Discounts
OAPs 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.
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 OAP 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 OAPs, including spouses that live with somebody that requires full-time care.
Some rail providers may offer complimentary travel to OAPs at their discretion – check with your local company 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.
There are also numerous charities across the UK that could offer you financial support in your old age. 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 charities to turn too.
Age Concern is also called Age UK and its one of Britain’s national charities that was developed specifically to help the 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
firstname.lastname@example.org or use Age UK’s online portal to find your nearest Friends of Age UK partner.
The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is one of the county’s best known organisations. Though they do a wealth of work abroad, the organisation also provides huge amounts of care and support for people in the UK too. The British Red Cross doesn’t actually provide grants for people. Instead, it offers free services to those in need.
Having access to mobility aids can have a huge effect on your life, especially if you’ve recently returned from hospital, for example, and need a few bits of equipment to get by. The Red Cross offer short-term loans of items like commodes, walking sticks, walkers, grab rails and wheelchair ramps. These could be invaluable as you recover from ill health or look for a longer term solution. For information on services in your area see their website here.
Support at Home
The charity also runs a volunteer program so you can get much needed help at home if you require it. These trained carers can provide physical and emotional support, and are there to help rehabilitate people after hospital stays, or lend an extra hand so you don’t have to be admitted to hospital in the first place. Basic first aid training is given, and volunteers can offer companionship, and help collect groceries and prescriptions. More information can be found here.
Other Sources of Advice
- Age UK is a one-stop shop for all matters relating to life as an OAP in Britain. You may know this charity but its former name, Help the Aged.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau is always on-hand to answer any queries you may have that relate to OAP benefits.
- The Money Advice Service can provide free advice on all financial affairs, including benefit entitlement of OAPs.
Action on Hearing Loss – www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk
Age UK – www.ageuk.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau – www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Energy Saving Trust – www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
The Money Advice Service – www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
NHS – www.nhs.uk
The Pensions Regular – www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk
The Senior Railcard – www.senior-railcard.co.uk
Turn2Us – www.turn2us.org.uk
UK Government – www.gov.uk
Red Cross – www.redcross.org.uk