Every single year, around £3.5 billion worth of benefits are unclaimed by older people. Do you know what you are eligible for? Here’s a quick run down of some of the benefits you could be entitled to.
If you have a disability or illness that leads you to need extra help at home, you could claim Attendance Allowance. It’s for older people who need help to remain independent at home.
The rates from April 2017 to April 2018 are £55.65 per week for help needed either during the day or at night. If you need help both day and night then it’s £83.10 per week. It’s paid every four weeks in most instances and can help a great deal.
It’s tax free and doesn’t impact on any other income you get. It’s also not means tested so the amount you might have in savings doesn’t matter. To claim you have to hit all of these criteria:
- Be 65 or over.
- Would benefit from personal help, including getting dressed or general supervision to help you stay safe.
- Have any illness or disability, including sight and hearing problems, or mental health problems including dementia.
- Have required help for at least six months.
- If you are terminally ill, you don’t have to wait six months to claim.
This is the main benefit for carers and amounts to £62.70 per week (figures for April 2017 to April 2018). If you’re under pensionable age then you also receive NI credits every week.
In order to claim Carer’s Allowance, you don’t have to be related to the person you care for. Nor do you have to live with them. You could be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you meet the following criteria.
- You spend at least 35 hours per week looking after and caring for someone with disabilities.
- You care for someone who is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (only the higher or middle rates apply), Personal Independence Payment daily living or Attendance Allowance.
- You don’t earn more than £116 a week. This amount is after deductions for tax.
- You’re not in full time education.
Everyone who is 60 or over is entitled to free eye tests and prescriptions. There are other health related NHS costs you could also be entitled to help with. Depending on your personal circumstances, you could be eligible for the following:
- Free dental care on the NHS.
- A voucher towards contact lenses or glasses.
- Free wigs and fabric supports on the NHS.
- Assistance with NHS travel costs to appointments.
Before paying for any treatment, if you are over 60, check with the hospital, doctor or dentist. You will also qualify for help with NHS costs if you or your partner get the following benefits:
- Income Support.
- Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance.
- Universal Credit.
- Pension Credit (the Guarantee Credit part)
- In some circumstances, Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.
If you aren’t on benefits but your income is considered low you could also get help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
DLA helps with any costs you might face as a disabled person. It is slowly being replaced by Personal Independence Payment.
There are different DLA payments according to circumstances and age. If you’re under 65 and you haven’t already claimed any DLA then you need to look into Personal Independence Payment.
If you’re over 65 and you haven’t already claimed DLA then you will need to look into Attendance Allowance.
If you already claim DLA then you may be reassessed. It depends on your age. If you were born before 1948, your allowance will remain the same for as long as you need it. If you were born after 1948 then you will undergo a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment. The Department for Works and Pension (DWP) will let you know if this is the case.
If your partner (civil partner or spouse) has died then you might be eligible for certain bereavement benefits. These are not means tested and it doesn’t matter if you are working.
If the bereavement occurred after 6 April 2017, then you should find out whether you are eligible for a new benefit called Bereavement Support Payment. If it happened before that date, then you could claim Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance.
- Bereavement Support Payment is a lump sum of £2,500 (if you have children, it’s £3,500), then 18 monthly instalments of either £100 or £350 if you have children.
- Bereavement Allowance (previously Widow’s Pension) is a weekly payment for a year after your partner died. The amount will depend on your age and the NI contribution of your partner. It is taxable.
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance is paid if you have children who are dependent. It again depends on how much NI was paid by your partner, although the standard (taxable) rate is £112.55 per week.
- Bereavement Payment is a lump sum of £2,000, which is not taxable.
These are just a few of the benefits you could be entitled to. For more information, head online to gov.co.uk.