Into retirement and not everybody has the support of a well earned pension. Almost two million UK pensioners live in poverty as life without a regular working income becomes the norm. With this in mind, we're keen to ensure that all older people are fully aware of the benefits packages available to them. A state pension is there for everyone who has worked, but are you aware of the other packages that could make your retirement a little easier? Age UK's Benefits Calculator will reveal some answers, and this guide will help you find everything that you are entitled to.
Please note – this article refers only individuals old enough to withdraw a state pension. Click here, for advice on other benefits that may be available in the UK and through Universal Credit.
The sum of your state pension depends on how much money you have contributed to National Insurance through your working life. The UK State Pension eligibility age is subject to change, dependent on your date of birth. If you are unsure then, you should use the government's official State Pension Age Calculator.
- Widows and widowers may be eligible for the pension payments that would been attributed to their deceased spouse, assuming they have not re-married. This can be especially critical to the spouse of a military veteran.
- If you are not yet retired, contact the Future State Pension division of DWP for advice on what you may expect to receive. If you consider the amount to be too low, then you should challenge the findings.
Not all older people are aware of this scheme, which supersedes traditional low-income payments such as Housing Benefit once an individual reaches pension age.
- Pension Credit is an additional top-up payment for any older adult on a low income that provides similar perks to working age income support credits, including housing benefit, council tax reduction and free NHS dental treatment.
- Turn2Us, is a charity that specialises in helping those experiencing financial hardship, and can advise further on Pension Credit.
- If you find the government's website confusing and are unsure if you qualify for Pension Credit, Which? provides a detailed and easily understandable guide.
- If you are struggle with reading, then take a look at this video from Independent Age. This will explain the basics of Pension Credit.
In addition to your state pension, you could have access to a private pension arranged by your previous employers – ask your former employer for information on this if you are unsure.
- Automatic enrolment into a workplace pension scheme is a legal requirement of any employee in the UK. Typically, these pension pots can be drawn from at any age beyond 55 years.
- This guide will tell you exactly how much money your employer should have contributed to your workplace pension.
- You may wish to seek legal advice about your workplace pension. If that's the case, contact The Law Centres Network. Here, you will receive free legal counsel and, if necessary, representation. If you were formerly a member of a trade union, it also pays to contact your union representative.
Fuel and Heating Benefits
With fuel costs ever increasing, these links will assist pensioners to deal with heating your homes in the colder months. .
Dementia, including but not limited to Alzheimer's disease, is a common concern for older adults. It's only natural that, as we age, we become a little more forgetful. While dementia cannot be cured, its impact can be slowed with early intervention.
- The World Health Organisation and NHS both list the common symptoms and warning signs of dementia, aiding the recognition of any concerns. The Social Care Institute of Excellence also discussed this in more detail.
- If you believe that somebody you with or care for is displaying signs of dementia, conduct this assessment from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
- Elder and SuperCarers are resources of advice and support for those living with dementia.
- Dementia does not only impact the individual living with the condition. It also affects caregivers and loved ones. Help Guide and the Family Caregiver Alliance discuss how somebody with dementia should be cared for, and how undesirable or challenging behaviours can be managed.
- Choosing to care for somebody with dementia is a big commitment. Alzheimer's.net lists five fundamental, non-negotiable qualities that you must possess to take on this challenge. Britain's own charity The Alzheimer's Society also provides ideas and suggestions on how to minimise outbursts of inappropriate behaviour.
- There will likely come a time that professional assistance is required to aid somebody with dementia. The Alzheimer's Association has drawn up practice recommendations. If you are struggling to find appropriate help, consult The Royal College of Nursing, who have collated an array of appropriate aides.
- There is no harm is asking for help while caring for somebody with dementia. This guide from Patient is written for healthcare professionals, but it shines a light on what you can expect from doctors, nurses and other avenues of support.
Older adults are entitled to several discounts and complimentary services throughout the country.
Personal Independence Payments (PIP), formerly known as the Disability Living Allowance, is not available to anybody over the age of 64, but if you are living with a disability you may be eligible for certain other payments.
- Attendance Allowance is an extra payment made to any older adult with a registered disability, in order to fund the extra care they may need. Eligibility may also qualify you for pension credit, and other benefits.
- Carer's Allowance remains available to senior carers, including spouses that live with somebody that requires full-time care.
Support with Travel
Some rail providers offer complimentary travel to older travellers at their discretion. Check with your local rail network for more information. There are, however, two nationwide travel concession schemes active in the UK.
- A complimentary bus pass is available to anybody living in England who had reached the female state pension age, regardless of gender. In Wales and Scotland, anybody aged 60 or over is eligible.
- The Senior Railcard is a personalised concession card that, for a one-off payment of £30, provides a discount of 1/3 on all national rail services to any passenger aged 60 or over.
- Passport renewals are free to anybody aged 88 or over.
- If you are based in London, the Older Person's Freedom Pass affords even greater flexibility. Anybody aged 65 or older and a residence in London is eligible for this pass, which offers free travel throughout the capital – including the tube – and free bus travel nationwide. Those that just miss out on the age cut-off should consider a 60+ Oyster Card. This, too, offers free travel throughout London for a one-off administration fee of £20.
- If you're spending your golden years exploring the world, be sure to investigate TripSavvy's guide to concessions on European railway discounts. It's the most relaxing way to travel!
Loneliness can be lethal for older people. Thankfully, there are a number of charities dedicated to offering friending services. These bodies will ensure that older people that live alone receive regular house calls from a friendly face. Popular examples include:
There are numerous charities across the UK that offer financial support in your later years. Whilst some may offer funding, others offer support services or short-term loans of essential equipment.
Two of the most well-known are The British Red Cross and Age Concern. Even if these organisations are not able to help you directly, they will have advice on other support networks to turn to.
Also known Age UK, this national charity was founded specifically to help older generations. The organisation works as a central funding source for many of the UK's charities, providing grants and funding for its partners.
These Friends of Age UK groups work at a local level, offering services and funding that will vary depending on where you live.
If you're looking for individual financial help, or you're part of a small group needing support, you cannot access grants directly from Age UK. Instead, you can either email
email@example.com or use Age UK's online portal to find your nearest Friends of Age UK partner.
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is one of the country's best-known organisations. Though they perform a wealth of work abroad, the organisation also provides care and support for people in the UK. The British Red Cross doesn't actually provide grants. Instead, it offers free services to those in need.
Access to mobility aids can have a significant impact on any older person's quality of life. Recently returning home from a hospital stay, for example, will be considerably less troublesome with the right apparatus.
The Red Cross offer short-term loans of items like commodes, walking sticks, walkers, grab rails and wheelchairs. These could be invaluable as you recover from ill health or look for a longer-term solution. For information on services in your area, click here.
Support at Home
The Red Cross also runs a volunteer program so you can get much needed help at home if you require it.
These trained carers provide physical and emotional support. They'll be on call to help rehabilitate people after hospital stays, or lend an extra hand so you won't be admitted to hospital in the first place.
Basic first aid training is given, and volunteers can offer companionship, and help collect groceries and prescriptions. More information can be found here.
Other Sources of Advice
- Age UK – and sister charities Age Scotland and Age NI – are one-stop shops for all matters relating to life as a senior person in Britain. You may know this charity by its former name, Help the Aged.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau is always on-hand to answer any queries you may have that relate to the benefits available to older adults.
- The Money Advice Service can provide free advice on all financial affairs, including benefit entitlement of older people in the UK.
- Friends of the Elderly may be able to offer financial support for older people on low incomes. If not, they'll certainly work with individuals to improve their circumstances.
- HelpAge International fight for the rights of older generations all over the world.
As we all grow older, it's only natural that we fight to retain our independence. This does not mean that opportunities for financial assistance should go unclaimed, though. You have paid into The System for your entire life. Now is the opportunity to reclaim any help that you are entitled to.
With so many resources discussed throughout this article, you'd be forgiven for growing overwhelmed. Here is a summary of the useful links that have been profiled.
If you have a link or a UK based service that you think we should add then please get in touch. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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