Nine ways to boost your pension income
Many people of pensionable age could be missing out on extra cash from the government as well as perks and discounts from retailers and other companies.
Which?’s money expert Reena Sewraz says pensioners should ensure they are getting all the help they are entitled to.
“A simple way to do this is claiming pension credit. Even if you’re only eligible for a small amount, it’s still worth doing as it can help unlock more benefits and perks such as the additional £300 cost of living payment the government has announced, she said.
“But don’t stop there. There are several steps you can take to boost your income, as well as plenty of discounts and freebies to take advantage of once you hit a certain age.”
Getting a pension’s boost
Here are nine ways to boost your income or save cash if you’re claiming a pension.
- Housing Benefit
If you rent your home and claim pension credit you might be able to get some or all of your rent paid in full by your local authority. There are two ways to claim – either at the same time as claiming pension credit or by contacting your local council directly.
If you own your home, you won’t be eligible for housing benefit, but you could get help paying your mortgage interest.
- Free prescriptions
In England, people aged 60 and above are eligible for free NHS prescriptions and eye tests. However, you will only be entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit.
Those who receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit can also claim help with travel costs to the hospital.
- Carer perks
Pensioners who are carers and receive a carer’s allowance might be able to get what’s known as the ‘carer addition’ included in their pension credit payments, worth up to £38.85 per week.
To receive the carer addition, you need to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who needs regular and substantial care.
- Free TV licence
Up until August 2020, everyone aged 75 or over got a free TV licence. But since that date, most people of that age group have to pay.
The main exception to this rule is those aged 75 and over who receive pension credit, or who live with a partner receiving pension credit.
From 2024, the BBC will be able to verify automatically whether a person gets pension credit with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), so pensioners can apply online or over the phone without the need to supply extra paperwork.
- Warm Home Discount
People who receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit qualify for the Warm Home Discount, which gives you £150 off electricity bills during winter 2022-23.
If you qualify, you should have received a letter from the DWP between October 2022 and January 2023. If you didn’t receive a letter by mid-January 2023, contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 before 28 February 2023.
- Cold Weather Payment
Anyone claiming pension credit, Universal Credit or income support is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment scheme which runs from 1 November to 31 March each year. It gives £25 payments for each seven-day period of cold weather.
People in Scotland can’t get Cold Weather Payments – but many will be able to get the annual £50 Winter Heating Payment instead. You’ll get this payment regardless of weather conditions in your area.
- Winter Fuel Payment
Under the Winter Fuel Payment scheme, people born on or before 25 September 1956 could get between £100 and £300 to help with heating bill costs.
Recipients of the state pension or certain other benefits usually get the payment automatically between November and December.
- Cheaper days out
Pensioners, or those aged 65 and over, are eligible for discounts on a range of leisure activities including museum visits, cinema tickets, sports tickets.
For example, English Heritage and National Trust offer discounts on memberships, while Odeon, Vue and Empire cinemas offer cheaper tickets to pensioners.
- Travel discounts
In Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London, you can claim a bus pass for free travel from the age of 60. But in the rest of England, you usually only become eligible for one when you reach state pension age.
Another way to save on transport is with a Senior Railcard. They are available to those over 60 and offer a third off standard and first class anytime, off-peak and advance rail fares.
Some travel operators offer discounts for older people. For example, National Express’s Senior Coachcard costs £12.50 a year and offers a third off travel. You need to be 60 or over to apply.