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What benefits might I be able to claim when I retire?

You may be entitled to benefits and payments other than your State Pension once you leave work. These benefits often go unclaimed, so it’s a good idea to see how they work and whether you are entitled to any.

Category: Insight


Retired Couple Walking On Cliff With Grandchild

Your pension may not be the only income you have to live on when you start getting your State Pension. You may be entitled to other benefits and payments once you leave work and this can include help with heating costs, medication, or even housing. These benefits often go unclaimed, so it’s a good idea to see how they work and whether you are entitled to any.


The State Pension

In the UK men and women can start claiming their state pension from the age of 66. It’s not strictly a benefit, as how much you get will depend on how long you have paid National Insurance (NI) contributions.

From April 2024 a full state pension pays out £221.20 a week and you’ll need to have 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions.

You can plug missing contributions from the years 2006 through to 2016 by buying these back, so check your national insurance record on the DWP website to see if you need to top up.

Topping up can cost up to £824 per year and will add around £300 a year to your pension.

This means you will need to live over three years after you get your state pension to make it worth your while. 

You can top up your NI using the voluntary Class 2 National Insurance page link or the voluntary Class 3 National Insurance page.

Certain benefits automatically come with NI credits, so if you were on child benefit or a grandparent looking after children, or on statutory sick pay, or you were unemployed and actively looking for work then your NI gaps may be covered.


What is the additional state pension? 

Additional state pension is a form of State Pension only available to men born before 6 April 1951, or women born before 6 April 1953. It is not fixed and is determined by the number of qualifying years you have, it is paid on top of the State Pension.


What is Pension Credit?

If you are claiming a state pension but are on a low income you may also be able to claim Pension Credit.

Pension Credit comes in two parts, benefit guarantee credit and savings credit; only people who reached pension age before 6 April 2016 can claim the savings credit part.

Claiming it, even if you are only entitled to a small amount, means you may be entitled to other benefits such as Housing Benefit or Cost of Living Payments. If you are disabled and or a carer you may get extra Pension Credit. 


How much is the Pension Credit?

The guarantee credit part of Pension Credits tops up your pension income to a guaranteed level of £201.05- if you’re single - or £306.85 if you’re a couple.


How much is the pension credit savings credit

Savings credit is paid if you have other pension savings - aside from the basic State Pension - and it pays extra income of £15.94 a week if you are single or £17.84 if you have a partner.

The savings credit is only available to those who reach retirement age before 6 April 2016.


Can I get other help with the cost of living when I retire?

There are lots of other ways you may be able to get help once you reach state pension age. These include:  


Housing benefit

If you’re renting, this can help pay towards your rent if you are on a low income, you’ll need to be claiming Pension Credit to qualify. Housing Benefit also used to be paid out to people of working age, but that has been replaced by Universal Credit.


Cost of Living payments

These are spread over three payments, and you’ll need to be on Pension Credit or have a low income. The amount and dates paid vary from year to year and it should be paid automatically. For example, in 2023/24 were:

  • £301 between 25 April 2023 and 17 May 2023
  • £300 in autumn 2023
  • £299 in spring 2024.

Council Tax benefits

You can claim help with paying your council tax, also known as council tax reduction, whether you own your home or whether you are renting it.  You’ll need to contact your local council as different councils operate different discount schemes.


Help with heating costs

The Winter Fuel Payment. If you were born before 25 September 1957. You could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills . Further details can be found on the government website. -payment.

Cold Weather Payments. This is a payment of £25 when your local temperature falls to an average of zero degrees Celsius, or below, over seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March 2024. It is also paid automatically to those on benefits, including Pensions Credit

The warm homes discount scheme. This is a £150 discount on your winter electricity bill. Your energy supplier will need to have signed up to the Warm Homes Discount scheme. The discount is automatically applied to your energy bill between October and March 2024. You’ll need to be on Pension Credit, on a low income or receiving other eligible benefits.

The scheme doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland, as the government  runs a separate scheme.


Help with the cost of living when you retire

In England, everyone aged over 60 gets free prescriptions and eye tests, and there is help available towards dental treatment, travel costs if you need to visit hospital for appointments, and help covering the cost of glasses or contact lenses. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, everyone is entitled to free prescriptions. People who have severe disabilities, and/or care needs and are on the State Pension can also receive Attendance Allowance.


Help with travel

  • Free bus travel is available to over 60s in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and when you reach State Pension Age in England.
  • If you live in London and are over 60, you get a free travel Oyster photocard which allows you to travel within the capital for free.
  • Age 60 or over? You can save 1/3 on most rail fares throughout Great Britain with a Senior Railcard.


Free passport and TV licence

People born before 2 September 1929 can qualify for a free passport but unless you are on Pension Credit you will have to pay for your TV licence although there is a reduced rate available to some over-75s.


Help for widow and widowers

If your spouse or civil partner was in the armed forces, or during a time of war before 6 April 2005, then you may be able to claim either War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension.

If they died or sustained an injury or illness due to serving in a conflict on or after 6 April 2005, you might be entitled to compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.


War Disablement Pension

If you were injured or disabled while serving in the Armed Forces before 6 April 2005, you can get extra help towards your pension.


How can I find out if I’m entitled to benefits?

The free MoneyHelper website has a benefits calculator which can help you work out which benefits you may be eligible for. The Gov.UK website also has a benefits checklist.

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