Many older people in the UK are unaware that they are entitled to receive cash benefits from the government. More than a million low income pensioners fail to collect their pension credit every year and they may also be missing out on other benefits, such as Attendance Allowance and Social Care Support that could help them with health costs.
The benefit system may seem overly complex and hard to understand, but thankfully, myageingparent has a handy online benefits calculator, which can help you check your elderly parents’ benefits entitlement.
Here’s a summary on what benefits are typically available to older people in the UK.
Changes to the pension age by the government mean that if you were born after 1950, you won’t be able to claim your state pension until you reach your mid-60s and many people will have to work up to and maybe even beyond that point.
However, there are some benefits which are available from the age of 60 that can help defray costs associated with maintaining health. These are:
Any medicine prescribed by an NHS doctor is free in the UK once you reach the age of 60. People under this age may be eligible for free prescriptions earlier in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
You simply fill in the form on the back of the prescription and hand it to your pharmacist. You may need to show proof of age. You will also receive an invitation to be screened for bowel cancer every two years.
Aimed at helping children and adults under 65 who require financial help for assistance with personal care, DLA is being replaced by PIP in stages between April 2013 and October 2017. PIP is designed to help cover some of the extra costs associated with a long-term condition, disability, or severe visual impairment.
There are two types of payment made up of various levels: daily living component (ranging from £21.80 to £82.30 weekly); and a mobility component (ranging from £21.80 to £57.45 weekly). Claims can be made online, by calling 0800 88 22 00, or by downloading a form from Gov.uk.
Keeping warm is vital for elderly people and these one-off payments are made each winter to those over 60. For 2015/16, the payments amount to £200 for households with someone aged up to 79, and £300 for households with someone aged 80+.
You’ll qualify for Winter Fuel Payment if:
People already receiving benefits will automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment. You can also make a claim via Gov.uk or by calling the Helpline on 03459 151515.
People who are 65, not in hospital or residential care, but in need of help with personal care, may be eligible for Attendance Allowance (AA).
There are two weekly payment rates (£57.30, £85.60) depending on how often care is required. If your older parent has been ill or needing help for at least six months, then they may qualify for AA.
Claims can be made by phoning 0345 605 6055, or by downloading a form from Gov.uk. Check with the government website for the latest allowance figures, as these are updated annually.
Everybody aged 65 and over is eligible for a free flu jab every winter. The jabs are available in GP surgeries and pharmacies between September and February each year.
About four million older people are entitled to Pension Credit, yet about one in three of those eligible are still not claiming it. Pension Credit (PC) is a two-part income-related benefit:
Even if your older parent is only eligible for a small amount of pension credit, it is still worth applying for. All people receiving the Guarantee Credit portion of PC are entitled to:
People on low incomes and with savings of less than £16,000 (or £23,000 if living in a residential care home) may be entitled to help from the NHS with costs associated with:
Details of the scheme can be found on the NHS website. Application forms for the NHS Low Income Scheme can be found at GP surgeries, hospitals, opticians, and dentists.
For more detail on the range of benefits available to help your older parents, the Age UK Factsheet Help with Health Costs is very useful and they also have a Helpline on 0300 330 1343. The Citizens Advice Bureau website also has a detailed guide on Help with health costs.