Benefits you're entitled to: over-65s
According to older people's charity Age UK, 16% – or 1.8 million – of pensioners live in poverty, and yet the benefits targeted at this section of society are the most likely to go unclaimed.
The government estimates that around one and a half million pensioners do not claim one of the most important benefits for the retired – Pension Credit – with up to £2.8 billion unclaimed every year. The average amount unclaimed is significant – £1,092 per person, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Other benefits that also go unclaimed by older people include housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Alison Taylor, director of operations at the Elizabeth Finn Trust, which runs the Turn2us benefits advice service, says that many pensioners are "not aware of the financial support available to them, with eight in 10 of those eligible for Pension Credit simply not taking it up.
"We know that the complexity of the benefits system and perceived stigmas around claiming can deter pensioners from accessing this vital support," she adds. "Yet feedback from our users shows how this extra income can make a huge difference to their quality of life."
The benefits that are on offer change as you get older – with some available to people as young as 50 years old. Help is available to ensure that you claim what you are entitled to. Here is an overview of what you can claim when you reach 65 and over.
Benefits for the over-65s
If you are over 65 and need care, you may be eligible for Attendance Allowance.
This is paid at two rates depending on how often you need care. The lower rate is £55.10 a week. You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day or night. The higher rate is £82.30 a week. You get this if you need frequent care throughout the day and night or if you are terminally ill.
You must normally have been ill for six months (unless you are terminally ill) before you can get Attendance Allowance. Phone the Attendance Allowance helpline for a claim form on 0345 605 6055.
Annual flu jab
The flu jab is free every winter once you reach the age of 65. You don't need a GP referral for free flu jabs in pharmacies and the injections are usually available between September and February.
All over-75s are eligible for a free TV licence, but you must apply for this. You'll need to provide your date of birth and your National Insurance number (or a photocopy of your passport, driving licence or birth certificate). If you share your house with someone younger than 75, you can still apply for a free licence but it must be in your name. The website at tvlicensing.co.uk has more details.
- Visit turn2us.org.uk for a benefits calculator or call the freephone helpline on 0808 802 2000.
- Contact ageuk.org.uk for advice specifically aimed at older people or call the freephone number 0800 169 6565.
A scheme originally established in 1944 to provide protection against sickness and unemployment as well as helping fund the National Health Service (NHS) and state benefits. NI contributions are compulsory and based on a person’s earnings above a certain threshold. There are several classes of NI, but which one an individual pays depends on whether they are employed, self-employed, unemployed or an employer. Payment of Class 1 contributions by employees gives them entitlement to the basic state pension, the additional state pension, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and bereavement benefits. From April 2016, to qualify for the full state pension, individuals will need 35 years’ of NI contributions.