Self Funding Care Guide – What Benefits am I Entitled to?
Approximately 5.5 billion pounds of benefits goes unclaimed by older people each year.
If you find you need to self fund, or if you have a low retirement income, claiming the benefits you are entitled to could make the world of difference to your circumstances.
This is a tax free, income related benefit and comes in 2 parts:
- Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level of £148.35 (for single people) or £226.50 (for couples).
- Savings Credit is an extra payment if you’ve got some savings or your income is higher than the basic State Pension.
You may be eligible for either one or both. Due to the recent changes in legislation, if you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you may not be eligible for Savings Credit.
Even if you are only entitled to a very small amount of Pension Credit, it is worth taking as having this benefit will open the door to other benefits such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
This is a means tested benefit that can help pay your rent if you are a tenant – it can also cover other costs such as service charges for lifts and communal laundry facilities. You won’t be eligible for Housing Benefit if you have more than £16,000 in savings, unless you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, in which case the savings limit doesn’t apply.
Council Tax Reduction
If you get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, you may get your Council Tax paid in full. If you don’t get Guarantee Credit but have a low income and less than £16,000 in savings, you may still be eligible for help.
If you receive disability or carer’s benefit, you may be entitled to more support.
Winter Fuel Payment
This is an annual payment (£200 if you are under 80 and £300 if you are 80 or over) to help with heating costs over the winter months and is paid to households with someone over the Pension Credit age. In winter 2014-15, you will qualify for the payment if you were born before 6 July 1952 (the date changes every year).
It is only necessary for you to claim once; after this, the payment will automatically be paid each year.
If you’re over 60 you are entitled to free prescriptions and eye tests. However, it would be worth asking your dentist, optician or hospital staff if you are entitled to any other help such as:
- free NHS prescriptions
- free NHS dental treatment
- a free NHS eye test
- a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses
- help with travel costs to receive NHS treatment
- free NHS wigs and fabric supports.
You will qualify if you and/or your partner receive:
- the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit (in some circumstances)
- Universal Credit.
This is a tax free, non means tested benefit available to those over 65 whose personal care is affected by physical or mental illness or disability. If you receive Attendance Allowance you may become entitled to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.
There are two weekly rates – the rate you receive depends on the level of help you need. For April 2014 to April 2015, the rates are:
- £54.45 if you need help in the day or at night
- £81.30 if you need help both in the day and at night.
This payment is £61.35 per week and is for someone who cares for their partner, a relative or friend who needs help because they’re ill or disabled. To claim Carer’s Allowance, you must:
- spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person – you don’t have to live with them
- care for someone who receives the higher- or middle-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, either rate of Personal Independence Payment daily living component or any rate of Attendance Allowance
- not earn more than £102 a week (after deductions)
- not be in full-time education.
If you’re under pension age, you’ll also get National Insurance credits each week towards your State Pension.
Disability Living Allowance
This benefit has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all new claimants. If you need help with personal care or have difficulty walking and you’re under 65, you must apply for PIP. If you’re over 65 then you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
PIP is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16 to 64, even for those with an indefinite or lifetime DLA award. Your DLA probably won’t be affected until 2015 or later but there are exceptions:
- your care or mobility needs change
- you reach the end of your current DLA award
- you’re no longer eligible for DLA.
If you were 65 or over on 8 April 2013 and already claiming DLA, you won’t be affected by the change and you’ll continue to get DLA payments for as long as you’re entitled to them. The weekly payments for DLA from April 2014 are:
- £81.30 if you need help in the day and night
- £54.45 if you need help in the day or night
- £21.55 if you need help for only some of the day or with cooking yourself a meal.
- £56.75 if, for example, you’re only able to walk a short way before feeling out of breath, dizzy or unsteady, or if you’re not able to walk at all outdoors
- £21.55 if you need help walking outdoors in places you don’t know because of a physical or mental disability such as deafness or dementia.
Personal Independence Payment
This is a tax free, non means tested benefit – you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if you’re under 65 and need help with daily living activities or help getting around, or both. If you’re under 65 and already claiming Disability Living Allowance you will eventually be asked to claim PIP instead.
If you are awarded PIP before you are 65 it can continue after age 65. If you are 65 or over and find you have cafe needs, you won’t be eligible for PIP bt you may be eligible for Attendance Allowance.
PIP has two parts – a daily living component and a mobility component. The rate depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You may be able to claim one or both components.
Daily living component:
- Standard rate – £54.45 per week
- Enhanced rate – £81.30 per week
- Standard rate – £21.55 per week
- Enhanced rate – £56.75 per week
TV Licence Concession
You can get a TV licence concession if:
- you’re aged 75 or over (or your household includes someone who is over 75)
- you’re registered as blind or severely sight impaired
- you’re retired or disabled and live in certain accommodation
Older people are entitled to free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England, once they become eligible. If you’re a woman, the age of eligibility for concessionary travel is your State Pension age. If you’re a man, it’s the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day.
If you are over 60, you will be entitled to buy a Senior Railcard – this costs £30 per year and will save you a third off your rail fares.
Whilst coaches don’t currently offer a national concession scheme, it is worth asking the coach operator if they will provide any discounts before purchasing your ticket.