It is important to investigate what may be available from the State as there are a number of State Benefits designed to help to meet the extra costs involved when you need care, providing you meet the qualifying conditions.
In normal circumstances, when a person reaches retirement age they qualify for a state pension. To receive the full amount a person must have paid into or been credited with a sufficient number of years of national insurance contributions.
Those who do not have a sufficient number of years to qualify for the full amount but have 25% of the number of qualifying years needed, may receive a reduced pension.
Help for claiming State Pension Online
Find out what you need to do and the information you need before you can start your State Pension online claim.
You can still claim online if:
- you haven’t received a letter from the Pension Service inviting you to claim (the BR33 letter and booklet)
- you’ve deferred your State Pension
Available 9-5 Mon- Fri. https://www.gov.uk/claim-state-pension-online
Pension and Savings Credit
Pension Credit is a benefit which is means tested but tax-free and comprises of two parts, a guarantee credit and a savings credit. People may qualify for one or both parts.
To be able to claim Guarantee Pension Credit a person must State Pension Age. The Savings Pension Credit can be claimed by those aged 65 and over but who reached State Pension Age prior to 6th April 2016.
Guarantee credit gives people on low income in Great Britain a guaranteed minimum of:
- £182.60 if they are single
- £278.70 if they have a partner
Savings credit provides extra money for those over 65 - or if a couple, if one partner is over the age of 65 - and provides extra income for those with savings or investments over £10,000. The extra amounts available are a maximum of:
- £14.48 if single
- £16.20 if a couple (including same sex couples)
The amount of savings credit received is based on the total amount a person receives, including pensions and income from any work done, with capital above the limit of £10,000 turned into a tariff income which is calculated at £1 per £500 in savings. This 'income' is then added to a person's other income and the amount applied to the means test. Savings credit initially increases the amount received but then decreases as a person's income increases.
The value of the home is usually disregarded if one partner goes into care whilst the other remains at home. If this happens, they are then no longer assessed as a couple and are assessed individually instead. If the remaining partner subsequently goes into care, the home then falls into the Pension Credit means test and this will usually mean that any rights to Pension Credit will be removed due to qualifying income or savings levels being exceeded.
In these circumstances, it is usual for up to 26 weeks to be disregarded to allow for the house to be sold if active steps are being taken to achieve a sale.
A person receiving Pension Credit whilst in Local Authority care will be expected to use all of it towards their costs and personal expenses as they would with any other income, apart from the savings credit element which is disregarded. Pension Credit with a Severe Disability Addition may also be claimable if a person whose property is on the market is already entitled to Attendance Allowance, however if the property is not on the market it will be treated as capital and this usually removes entitlement to Pension Credit.
If you are State Pension age or older and need help with your personal care due to a mental and/or physical disability, you may qualify for Attendance Allowance. In normal circumstances you must have been in need of help for at least six months but there are special circumstances in the case of the terminally ill.
Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit and not affected by savings or income or other benefits already in payment although eligibility for Attendance Allowance may also increase the amount of benefits or credits you are entitled to.
The rate paid is determined by how much care the person needs and people can be eligible even if they are not actually receiving this care or live alone.
It is payable at two rates with the level paid depending upon whether the care is needed during the day, night or both.
- Higher rate - £92.40 per week
- Lower rate - £61.85 per week
It is paid to people receiving care at home, or in a nursing or residential home if they are meeting the full cost of their accommodation.
It stops if:
- a person is in hospital for 28 days or more
- a person moves into a care home and the care is being provided through the local authority
Disability Living Allowance
This benefit is a tax-free benefit payable to people under pension age with a long term illness or disability which can be either physical or mental. Eligibility to Disability Living Allowance will not usually affect any other income or benefits a person receives such as from work. If you start to receive Disability Living Allowance it may increase the amount of other income related benefits and credits you are entitled to. Disability Living Allowance is being phased out and replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
When a person claiming Disability Living Allowance reaches pension age and still qualifies to receive it, the allowance continues to be paid, even though the person is now over pension age and any new claimant in these circumstances would be claiming Attendance Allowance.
Going into hospital, residential care, or a hospice
If you go into hospital your DLA stops after 28 days, unless you are under 16 when it will stop after 84 days. If you get DLA high rate mobility component and have a vehicle under the Motability scheme, you should contact Motability before your DLA mobility component is due to stop to see whether it could be arranged for you to keep your vehicle. You can contact Motability on 0300 456 4566.
Regardless of your age, the care component of DLA stops after 28 days if you are in residential care funded by the Local Authority or NHS Trust. The mobility component will continue to be paid.
If you pay for your own residential care, your DLA continues to be paid in full. Your DLA also continues to be paid if you are in a nursing home and the only help you get with your fees is an amount called the Funded Nursing Care Payments from the NHS Trust. You can also continue to receive DLA if you go into a hospice that is not funded by the NHS.
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment is a benefit which has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people aged from 16 until pension age. Personal Independence Payment is a non-means tested, tax-free payment that you can spend as you choose.
Those on PIP when they reach pension age remain on it with “light touch” reviews every 10 years.
Find out more about this new benefit, including what will happen if you're currently getting Disability Living Allowance by visiting the Government’s page on Personal Independence Payment.
If you are aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone and the person is getting any of the benefits listed below, you may be able to claim Carer's Allowance:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate for care
- Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
Carer's Allowance is not available if you earn more than £132 per week after certain deductions have been made - such as Income Tax or if you are in full-time education with 21 hours or more a week of supervised study.
Carer's allowance is paid at the rate of £69.70 per week, but this is reduced by the amount of certain other benefits, including State Pension, received and if you receive certain other benefits at the same amount or more per week, you cannot receive Carer's Allowance too. Tax may also be payable on the amount you receive but receipt of this benefit does not depend upon how much a person may have contributed in national insurance contributions in the past.
When claiming Carer's Allowance you may be entitled to higher rates of means tested benefits but you may also affect the benefits of the person you are caring for. They could lose the severe disability premium in their income-related benefit or the severe disability addition in their Pension Credit.
If you only have an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance but are not claiming it, the benefits of the person you care for will not be affected.
If you are making a claim for Carer's Allowance and it can affect the benefits received by the person you are caring for, they need to write on your claim form to confirm the following:
- they know you are claiming Carer's Allowance
- you are caring for them for at least 35 hours a week
Carers Allowance Update
Carers Allowance: Simpler, Clearer & Faster Over 150,000 carers have now used the Carers Allowance on-line form to make their claim or report a change of circumstance.
Not exactly a benefit, but this one is really important. Signing up for Carer’s Credit for a year means a carer could receive over £200 extra per year in State Pension when they retire.
The credit helps carers to continue to build the amount of State Pension they will receive – so they can protect their future State Pension, while carrying out their caring responsibilities.
Nearly 200,000 people with caring responsibilities could receive a boost to their pension – worth hundreds of pounds a year – by claiming Carer’s Credit. But currently only an estimated 5% of those eligible are signed up to receive these additional National Insurance contributions.
Currently only 11,000 people have signed up for the credit, which contributes to their National Insurance record, yet around 200,000 are thought to be eligible. It is designed for those who are caring for others for 20 hours or more per week and do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance.
Signing up for this credit can particularly help older women. Women make up 130,000 – or 65% – of those who could be eligible, and two-thirds of those with caring responsibilities who could apply are estimated to be over age 50.
Find information on eligibility and how to apply for Carer’s Credit.
Your property should be fully exempt from Council Tax until it is sold, if it is left unoccupied when you move to receive care - No council tax is payable on a person's unoccupied property if they have left their home to receive personal care either in a hospital or residential or nursing care.
You may be eligible for a one-band reduction on your Council Tax if you adapt your home for either yourself or another disabled person to live there and applies whether the property has increased in value as a result of the work or not.
Disabled facilities grant
Local councils have to give Disabled Facilities Grants to eligible applicants to make houses suitable for disabled people if they need improvements and adaptations made to their home to enable them to continue to live there independently. If you are in this position, you can ask your local social services department to do an assessment of your home and, depending on your financial circumstances, you may be expected to pay some of the costs.
An occupational therapist will usually assess what adaptations would be most suitable for your needs and, you will be awarded a Disabled Facilities Grant if they agree that these adaptations to your home are necessary for you.
Disabled Facilities Grants are available to owners and tenants in both private and social housing to the following limits:
In England up to £30,000 is available.
In Northern Ireland up to £25,000 is available.
In Scotland the sum is discretionary, depending on the local council.
In Wales up to £36,000 is available.
Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants/what-youll-get
Winter Fuel Payment
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
Cold Weather Payment
You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days.
The payments are based on each seven day period of "very cold" weather between 1st November and 31st March. "Very cold" weather is when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days. For each of these 7 day periods, the sum of £25 is paid.
If you receive pension credit, or certain income-based benefits and you're eligible, you will be paid automatically within 14 days, into the same account as your other benefit payments. But if you haven't been paid, but think you should have been, contact your Jobcentre Plus office or pension centre. Further details are available if you contact Gov.uk. Cold Weather Payments don’t affect your other benefits.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme
In winter, you could get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Not everyone gets the discount - check if you qualify - but it is financial assistance from the government to help keep your heating costs down over the winter. If you’re over 60 and receiving the state pension you might qualify.
You can also qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, eg a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
For further details check here https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/how-to-claim