There is a range of benefits available to older or disabled people, or those that need help with care. Some are means tested, others are available to anyone who meets specific criteria.
If a benefit is means tested, it is only available to those people who earn beneath a certain level of income. Depending on their circumstances, your relative might qualify for such financial help. The main benefits and allowances are described in separate articles:
- Attendance allowance
- Personal independence payment (PIP)
- Constant attendance allowance (CAA)
- State pension
- Pension credit
Non-means tested benefits
In addition to the main benefits and allowances outlined above, there may be other pieces of financial help available to your relative:
- Christmas bonus: a one-off tax-free £10 payment paid at Christmas to people on certain benefits.
- Council tax reduction: money off your council tax if you are on a low income.
- Help with health costs: everyone over 60 is entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests. If your relative is in receipt of certain benefits, such as the guarantee credit part or pension credit, they might also be entitled to free dental treatment, glasses and the cost of travel to hospital. See this page on the NHS site for more information.
- Help with travel: bus passes or blue badges, for example. Most towns also have their own dial-a-ride scheme for people who find it difficult to get out and about on public transport. See your local Age UK or Yellow pages for details of schemes in your area, and see also What are the alternatives to driving?.
- Housing benefit: available to people on low incomes who rent their home. For more information, see this page of the GOV.UK website.
- War widow(er) pension: you might be entitled to this if your partner died while serving in the armed forces.
- Winter fuel payment: for people born before 6 January 1952 an annual payment of £200 if you are under 80 and £300 if you are over 80 is available to help with fuel costs. People in receipt of a state pension or other relevant benefits will receive the payment automatically. Others who are eligible will need to apply. Click here for more information from Gov.UK about Winter fuel payments.
The benefits system
- If your relative’s circumstances change: you must notify the Department of Work and Pensions immediately as this could affect the benefits they are entitled to.
- Benefits cap: there is a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. For more information, see this page on the GOV.UK website.
- Welfare reform: there are a number of changes to the benefits system that started to take place from April 2013 as part of the government’s welfare reforms, for example the introduction of the personal independence payment (PIP) and universal credit.
'I made sure I understood what benefits they were and were not entitled to.' Jerry's story
If you are unsure which benefits you or your relative might be entitled to, try using an online benefits calculator. You will be asked a number of questions about your personal circumstances, then offered guidance on which benefits you might be eligible for. There are several online benefits calculators:
- Accessing local authority care and support: find out how to organise a needs assessment - the first step towards getting local authority support for an older person.
- Financing care at home: read our explanation about home care funding options.
- Benefits for carers: If you spend more than a certain number of hours a week caring for a relative or friend you may be eligible for government support.
Page last reviewed: 31 March 2016
Next review due: 31 March 2017