There is a range of benefits available to older or disabled people, or those that need help with care. Some are means tested, while others are available to anyone who meets specific criteria.
Means-tested benefits are only available to people who earn less than a certain level of income. Your relative might qualify for financial help, depending on their circumstances. The main benefits and allowances are described in separate articles:
- Attendance allowance
- Personal independence payment (PIP)
- Constant attendance allowance (CAA)
- State pension
- Pension credit
In addition to the main benefits and allowances outlined above, your relative might be eligible for the following financial help:
- Christmas bonus: a one-off tax-free £10 payment made before Christmas to people who get certain benefits in the qualifying week.
- Council tax reduction: money off your council tax if you are on a low income or claim benefits, or a 25% discount for people living alone.
- Help with health costs: everyone aged 60 years or over is entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests. If your relative has a low income or gets certain benefits, such as the guarantee credit part of 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 Choices website for more information.
- Help with travel: bus passes or a Blue Badge, 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 wife, husband or civil partner died before 6 April 2005 as a result of their service in the armed forces or during a time of war.
- Winter fuel payment: for people born on or before 5 May 1953 a tax-free 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, while others who are eligible will need to apply. Click here for more information from GOV.UK about Winter fuel payments.
The benefits system
- Change of circumstances: if your relative’s circumstances change, you must notify the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) immediately as this could affect the benefits they are entitled to.
- Benefits cap: there is a limit on the total amount of benefits that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. For more information, go to this page on the GOV.UK website.
- Welfare reform: since April 2013 a number of changes have taken place to the benefits system as part of the government’s welfare reforms. For example, the introduction of the personal independence payment (PIP) and universal credit.
If you're 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: April 2017
Next review due: April 2018