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Benefits for older people

There is a range of benefits available in later life, including Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and more. Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to.

In this article
Attendance Allowance Benefits for carers Christmas Bonus Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) Council tax reduction  Help with health costs  Housing Benefit Pension Credit  Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
State pension Travel concessions TV licence War Widow(er) Pension  Winter Fuel Payment Important benefits rules to be aware of  Benefits calculator How to appeal against a benefits decision 

Attendance Allowance

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 £89.60 a week from April 2021. 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

If you’re looking after someone else, you may be eligible for a range of benefits for carers, including Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Credit and Universal Credit.

Christmas Bonus

This is a one-off tax-free payment of £10 paid before Christmas each year. It is paid to people who get certain benefits (including Carer's Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Disability Allowance) in the qualifying week, which is normally the first full week of December.

Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA)

Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) is payable to people who are ill or disabled as a result of specific circumstances, such as workplace accidents or military service. To be eligible, you must receive either an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or a War Disablement Pension, and need constant care and attention as a result of your injury or disability.

If you’re awarded CAA, you won’t be eligible to receive certain other disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance.

CAA is paid at four different rates and the amount you get depends on the nature of your disability and how much care you need. It is worth up to £146.40 a week in 2021-22. For more information, or to make a claim visit Gov.uk.

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 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.

Read about other potential ways to reduce your council tax bill.

Help with health costs 

If you’re aged 60 or over, you’re entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests.

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

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.

Pension Credit 

For those above the state pension age on a low income, Pension Credit can top up your weekly income to a guaranteed amount. There are two parts to the benefit: Guarantee Credit, which tops up the state pension for those on low incomes; and Savings Credit, a bonus for those who saved some money towards their retirement. 

Our guide explains how to claim and how much you could get: Pension Credit.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

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 2013. Some people who were already claiming DLA before PIP was introduced will remain on it, but all new applicants must apply for PIP.

Read our Personal Independence Payment (PIP) guide for more information on how eligibility is worked out and how much you could get.

State pension

State pension is available to everyone over the qualifying age who has made sufficient National Insurance (NI) contributions. 

For anyone reaching state pension age after 6 April 2016, the full level is £179.60 a week (2021-22). However, the amount you receive will depend on the date you retire, how long you worked for and how much NI you paid during this time.

To understand what you are entitled to, read our guide: How much state pension will I get?

What happens to your state pension if you move into a care home? 

When someone moves into a care home, their eligibility for benefits may change. This will depend on whether they are paying for their own care (known as ‘self-funding’) or if their local authority is contributing to the costs. The move can also affect the benefits that a partner or a carer is entitled to receive.

Travel concessions

There are various concessions, discounts and other schemes that allow older people to travel free or at a reduced cost. Visit our travel perks and discounts page for information about bus, rail and taxi discounts and more.

If you have substantial mobility problems or a disability, you might qualify for free parking through the Blue Badge scheme.

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

TV licence

If you’re aged 75 or over, you may be entitled to a free TV licence.

In the past, everyone over 75 was entitled to a free TV licence, but from 1 August 2020 you or your partner must also receive Pension Credit to qualify. To apply for a free licence or to find out more, visit the TV licensing website

If you live in a residential care home, supported housing or sheltered accommodation, you may qualify for a concessionary TV licence, known as an Accommodation for residential care (ARC) licence. It costs £7.50 per room, flat or bungalow.

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 spouse 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 or Disability Living Allowance.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you qualify for the state pension, you will most likely be eligible for Winter Fuel Payment. This is a tax-free annual payment of between £100 and £300 to help with your heating bills. Because it’s based on the state pension, the eligibility age for Winter Fuel Payment changes annually.

People receiving state pension will get the payment automatically, but others may need to make a claim. Read our guide to Home energy grants to find out it if you are eligible.

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, couples were eligible to receive pension-age benefits as soon as the eldest partner reached state pension age. However, the rules changed in 2019.

Since May 2019 couples are only eligible for pension-age benefits once both of them 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 – will have to claim Universal Credit, which is often worth less, instead of Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit.

The changes should generally affect new claimants only, but couples’ existing eligibility can also be affected in some other circumstances, such as if a claim for Pension Credit is interrupted or they move to a different area.

Benefit cap

There’s a limit to the total amount of benefits you can get if you’re aged 16–65. 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 benefits affected by the 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.

Benefits calculator

If you’re unsure which benefits you might be entitled to, try the government-approved Turn2us benefits calculator, which calculates means-tested benefits and carer's 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 can ask for this to be looked at again. This is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

You can request a mandatory reconsideration in writing or over the phone, or download and fill in an official request form from the DWP. You must request a mandatory reconsideration within one month of receiving the original decision, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example, if you’re in hospital.

If you disagree with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal to a tribunal. To start the process, go to the Gov.uk page for appealing a benefit decision.

Citizens Advice provides more guidance on how to challenge a benefits decision.

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