For those over pension age who would benefit from extra help with washing, dressing or eating, due to illness or disability. Attendance Allowance is worth up to £87.65 a week from April 2019. It isn’t means tested, but you will need to meet certain criteria to qualify.
Our Attendance Allowance guide provides more information about eligibility as well as a handy video that explains the process.
Benefits for carers
Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA)
Payable to people who are ill or disabled as a result of specific circumstances, such as workplace accidents or military service. If you receive industrial injuries disablement benefit or a war disablement pension, you may be eligible to apply for CAA.
Council tax reduction
Regardless of age, all adults who own or rent a home are liable to pay council tax. However, you may be eligible for a council tax reduction if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. If you live alone, you’re entitled to a 25% discount.
What discount you get depends on your local authority: each council runs its own scheme. Your income, who you live with and any other benefits you are on will be taken into account. To find out more, get in touch with your local authority.
You may also qualify for a council tax reduction if your home has had certain adaptations done to assist someone with a disability who lives there. These can include an additional bathroom or specially adapted kitchen, or extra space for using a wheelchair. Visit gov.uk to check if you qualify.
Council tax support isn’t available in Northern Ireland, where there is a separate scheme.
Council tax and dementia
If you, or someone you live with, has dementia (or another permanent severe mental impairment), you may also be eligible for a 25% council tax discount worth an average of £400 a year.
This applies if you live in England, Scotland and Wales, and the person who is diagnosed with dementia is entitled to a disability benefit such as Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance. If you’re a person living alone and you have been diagnosed with dementia, you could be entitled to council tax exemption.
Find other potential ways to reduce your council tax bill with this guide from Which? Money.
Help with health costs
Dental benefits for over 60s include free dental treatment if you’re claiming certain benefits, including the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit. You might also be entitled to free dental treatment, glasses and the cost of travel to hospital.
The NHS Low Income Scheme is also available to help with dental charges, as well as the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment, NHS wigs and fabric supports, for those on a lower income.
Housing Benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit, however some people who are unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits may still be able to apply for Housing Benefit.
In certain circumstances people who've reached State Pension age may be able to make a new Housing Benefit claim. This would be the case if they live in temporary accommodation, or sheltered or supported housing, or if they’re getting the severe disability premium that is added to some state benefits.
If you want to apply for Housing Benefit only, then contact your local council to start the process. If you’re applying for other benefits as well, contact Jobcentre Plus, who will send details of your Housing Benefit claim to your council.
For more information about eligibility and how to claim, visit the Housing Benefit guidance on gov.uk.
For those on a low income, this can top up your weekly income to a guaranteed amount. There are two parts to Pension Credit: Savings Credit, for those who saved some money towards their pension and Guarantee Credit, available to pensioners on low incomes.
I was dealing with Swansea, Belfast and Glasgow DWP offices because one lot deals with Pension Credit, another deals with Attendance Allowance and another with ordinary pensions. Keep a clear head and just work your way through all the processes and procedures.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Helps to cover some of the extra costs associated with long-term illness or disability. PIP replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in June 2013. Some people who were already claiming DLA before PIP was introduced will remain on it, but all new applicants must apply for PIP.
Available to everyone over state pension age who has made sufficient National Insurance (NI) contributions. The amount of State Pension you receive will depend on the date you retire, how long you worked for and how much NI you paid during this time.
Travel perks: free bus pass, Blue Badge and more
Popular examples of help with travel include free bus passes and the Blue Badge scheme, which provides parking concessions for people with disabilities.
In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the female State Pension age (65 years in 2019-20), whether you’re a man or a woman. If you haven’t yet reach State Pension age, use the Which? Money State Pension eligibility calculator to find out when you’ll become eligible for a bus pass.
If you live in London, you can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport when you reach the age of 60, but only within London. In Wales, you can get a bus pass from the age of 60.
Find information on how to apply for a bus pass on gov.uk.
Most towns also have their own ‘dial-a-ride’ schemes if you find it difficult to use public transport. See your local Age UK or Yell.com for details of schemes in your area. For tips and ideas on getting around without your own car, read our article on What are the alternatives to driving?
If you’re a British national and you were born on or before 2 September 1929, you could also be entitled to a free passport.
If you’re aged 75 or over, or your household includes someone over 75, you’re entitled to a free TV licence. The licence needs to be applied for and you’ll need your National Insurance number – if you don’t have your number, you’ll need another way to prove your age, such as a passport or driving licence. To find out more, go to the TV licensing website.
However, in June 2019 the BBC announced plans to scale back the entitlement to free licences for the over-75s. From 1 June 2020 it’s expected that only those people over 75 who also receive Pension Credit will qualify for a free TV licence.
War Widow(er) Pension
You might be entitled to War Widow(er) Pension if your wife, husband or civil partner died:
- before 6 April 2005 as a result of their service in the armed forces
- as a civil defence volunteer or a civilian during the Second World War
- because they were a prisoner of war.
See gov.uk for a full list of eligibility criteria, including details about claiming if your wife, husband or civil partner was getting a War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance at the time of their death.
Veterans who are seriously injured as a result of their service may be entitled to receive financial help through The War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS).
WPMS is designed to help pay for the extra costs incurred as a result of serious injuries for those aged 16 to 64 who made a claim after 8 April 2013. It’s paid as an alternative to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – previously Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 5 April 1954 and you get the State Pension or some other social security benefits, you may be eligible for Winter Fuel Payment. This is a tax-free annual payment of between £100 and £300 to help with your heating bills.
Important benefits rules to be aware of
Benefits for couples
Generally when you reach State Pension age you’ll stop receiving working-age benefits and start receiving pension-age benefits instead, which are usually higher. In the past, as a couple, when one of you reached state pension age, you would both move on to pension-age benefits. However, the rules on this changed in 2019.
From May 2019 couples will only be eligible for pension-age benefits once both have reached state pension age. This means that so-called ‘mixed age’ couples – where one partner is above state pension age and the other is below – instead of being able to claim Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit, will have to claim Universal Credit, which is often worth less.
The change should only affect new claimants, but some circumstances (such as a couple’s claim for Pension Credit being interrupted, or if they move area) could also affect couples’ eligibility. You can read more on Which? News.
There’s a limit to the total amount of benefits you can get if you’re aged 16–64. If you claim more than one benefit and are not yet at State Pension age, the amount your household receives from some benefits may be reduced. See gov.uk for a full list of the benefits affected by the benefit cap.
Change of circumstances
It’s important to report a change, in case you are paid too much and are later required to pay back these overpayments. Who you report the changes to depends on which benefit you are claiming – you can find out more on gov.uk.
If you’re unsure which benefits you might be entitled to, try the government-approved Turn2us benefits calculator, which calculates means-tested benefits and carers allowance. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your personal circumstances, then offered guidance on which benefits you might be eligible for.
How to appeal against a benefits decision
If you apply for a benefit and do not agree with the decision you receive, you may be entitled to appeal against it – this is also known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’. See our article on how to appeal against a benefits decision.
Read about Attendance Allowance and the payment rates, plus tips on applying and completing the form.
Personal Independence Payment can help with some of the costs associated with long-term illness or disability.
Up-to-date advice and information from Which? to help older people stay safe during the coronavirus crisis.