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Planning Retirement Online

The State Pension

The most obvious public sector benefit is probably the State retirement pension that currently starts at 65 for men. The women's state pension age is gradually rising from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2018 and then, in line with the men's age, from 65 to 66 between 2018 and 2020.

Benefits, Concessions and Discounts

Your state pension will probably consist of the basic pension plus some of what used to be called the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) and is now known as the State Second Pension (S2P). The amount of SERPS, or S2P, will depend on how much you have earned and for how long you have been contracted in or out of SERPS/S2P. Therefore it is extremely difficult to know how much you might get. To receive a forecast, you can request one on-line, download a form from the Pension Service website or telephone for one. Go to the Pension Service website  (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/about-dwp/customer-delivery/the-pension-service/)  to find the details. You may apply for a forecast providing you are more than 10 days away from retirement. You may even receive one through the post without even asking – they do seem to be more pro-active these days and certainly some people get one unsolicited.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit guarantees everyone an income of at least £137.35 for a single person and £209.70 for people who live with a partner. (These are the 2011-12 figures). It replaces the Minimum Income Guarantee. Again, the Pension Service website will give you more details on how to apply.

Other State Benefits

There is a wide variety of other state benefits that might be available to you, depending on your circumstances. Go to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website  (www.dwp.gov.uk  ) and the Pension Service one to discover more about these. There is also a very user-friendly website called www.gov.uk that will be of help to you.

Heating Allowance

Once you have reached the age at which women receive their state pension (currently rising from 60 to 65 from 2010 to 2018), you will receive the £250 per annum Government Heating Allowance. It is currently £250 per household and if you live with a partner, once the first one has reached the qualifying age, he or she will receive the £250. When the other partner also reaches 60 you both get £125. There is a cut-off date in the first year in which you receive it which is effectively the 6th September. This is because women who qualify for the state pension in any one year will start to receive it on the 6th of an odd month, depending on their date of birth. The 6th November doesn't count because it's too close to the date when the heating allowance is actually paid, therefore one person in the household has to have reached the age at which women are eligible to receive the state pension on the 6th September or before. If you reach 80 years old bfore the 26th September you will receive £400.

The first year that you are eligible for heating allowance, you have to apply for it. Henceforth, it should come automatically and you will be informed when it is about to be paid into your bank account.

There are more details on https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating   and you can get a claim form by calling the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 08459 151 515, textphone 0845 601 5613. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Insulation

On the heating theme, there is a Government initiative called Warm Front that provides a package of home insulation and heating improvements

If you’re aged 60 or over and you live in a privately owned or rented home, you may get a maximum Warm Front Plus grant of £3,500 (or up to £6,000 if your home needs oil central heating) if you receive one of the qualifying income-related benefits. If you are installing an oil-fired central heating system you could receive a grant if up to £6,000 - the maximum amount of the grant.

The scheme differs between England and Wales, and Scotland. You can find more details at www.direct.gov.uk   Alternatively, you can phone free on 0800 072 0150.
Council Tax

If you are over 60, you may, in certain circumstances, be able to claim a council tax rebate. If you are on a low income, have few savings and/or are disabled, you could benefit. The rules and conditions are fairly complex but you can find help at www.entitledto.co.uk  . Also you get a 25% discount if you live alone. This rule applies to people of all ages, but tends to be especially relevant to older people, many of whom do live alone.

There are other links on the ‘entitledto’ web site that may also help you. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is also a good source of help.

Prescriptions

Once you are 60, whether you are male or female, you are entitled to free prescriptions. You may be entitled to them for many other reasons, for example, if you are diabetic, but once you reach 60 you automatically become eligible to obtain all your medicines free of charge.

You are also, at age 60, entitled to free eye tests but you still have to pay for glasses, should you need them. Again, there may be other reasons why you might be eligible for free eye tests but at 60 you can get them free regardless of anything else.
For more details on prescriptions and eye tests, visit www.direct.gov.uk  .

Television Licence

Everyone aged 75 or over can get a free TV licence for their main home. The licence also covers other household members living at the address.

If you’re 74 you can apply for a short term licence that will be valid until the end of the month before your 75th birthday.

Travel Concessions

From 1 April 2006, people aged 60 or over in England and Wales are entitled to free off-peak bus travel in the local authority or Passenger Transport Executive area where they live. Off-peak travel is when you travel any time after 9.30am Monday to Friday, and all day at week-ends. More recently the age at which you qualify for free off-peak travel has risen from 60 to the age at which women receive their state pension.

Some bus passes cover a wider area, such as a county. Some also allow travel in the morning rush hour, and in some areas, passes can also be used on trams, trains or taxis. It can get complicated, but the key is to approach your local authority and ensure that you get the travel concessions to which you’re entitled.

In Scotland everyone over the women's state pension ageis entitled to free, local and long-distance bus travel. From 1 April 2006 older and disabled people can use buses at any time of the day, including the morning rush hour. This scheme is run by Transport Scotland and you will need to apply for an Entitlement Card to travel for free.

In England and Wales, if you’re over the women's state pension age, you automatically qualify for Routesixty fares. This means you can travel half price on most National Express services. To find out more, telephone 08705 808 080.

You can also go to www.nationalexpress.com/save/routesixty.cfm 

In Scotland, if you’re over the state pension age for women, Scottish Citylink offers Senior Specials, a range of discounted fares for the over 60s that regularly changes. If you have a concessionary travel card, you may be able to travel free on many of their services. To find out more, telephone 08705 505 050.

From April 2008 the local entitlement for free bus travel will be extended to allow bus travel in every area of the country. It will mean that whether using the bus locally, or when visiting other parts of the country, people over the women's state pension age will be able to travel for free.

You can save money by combining bus-travel tickets with admission tickets. There’s a range of travel extras to consider too, like inclusive coach and airport-hotel packages as well as theatre, shows and concert deals as well as tickets to European destinations.

Local Authority Facilities

Remember that many local authority facilities are cheaper for people over the state pension age for women. These will probably include adult education classes and entry to your local sports and leisure centre. In many areas, school swimming pools that are open to the public at certain times, e.g. before school starts, give reductions to over-60s.

The concessions will vary from council to council, so you can’t make any assumptions about what you may be entitled to. You can either contact the council offices or ask when you go to your sports and leisure centre, swimming pool or the local college. Be aware of the types of concessions that may be available and make sure you ask about them in your area.

To remind yourself of how to help us with this section, go back to our introductory pages at Concessions, Discounts and Special Offers to look at what's available in the private sector, go to Concessions, Discounts and Special Offers - Private Sector.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.


 

 


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