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Every year thousands of people are missing out on benefits which they are entitled to, but are not claiming. Over £5.5 billion in benefits go unclaimed every year in the UK. There are over 50 different types of benefits, so the system can seem very confusing.

Main benefits relevant to older people

Benefits which you may be entitled to in addition to the state pension include:

  • Attendance Allowance: helps to fund home visits if you need to pay for a carer.
  • Carer’s Allowance: for someone who is caring for another person.
  • Winter Fuel Payment: helps with the cost of heating for older people.
  • Cold Weather Payment: a daily contribution to help with heating in periods of extreme cold.
  • Housing Benefit: helps tenants pay their rent.
  • Pension Credit Guarantee credit: weekly income top up to a set minimum level.
  • Pension Saving credit: help with mortgage payments.

There is also a range of benefits relating to disabilities.

Why are people not claiming?

Some people are simply not aware of the full range of benefits available and which ones they are entitled to. The claim forms can seem overwhelming, people don’t feel confident about completing them without help and they don’t know where to turn for guidance.

Complex Forms Hard To Fill Out
Complex claim forms can intimidate elderly people

Owner occupiers are more likely to fail to claim benefits than people in rented accommodation. This is thought to be because people in rented accommodation may already have contact with the benefits departments for housing benefit, so at that point they made be made aware of other benefits which they have the right to claim.

Some older people feel uncomfortable about claiming benefits. In some cases they feel that they shouldn’t need to accept what they perceive to be charity or handouts, when in fact these people will doubtless have paid tax and National Insurance through their working lives, so have made their contribution and are now entitled to something back.

How to claim

If you think you might be entitled to more benefits than you are currently claiming, you can seek advice from several places, including Advice UK, Citizens Advice or a benefits department.

There is no doubt that the benefits system is complicated, so it can be really helpful if you can enlist the support of a relative or friend to help you navigate your way through all of the details and the paperwork. It may seem like a lot of effort, but if it were to gain you several hundred pounds a year, or help installing mobility aids such as stairlifts in your home, then it could be worth it.

A list of all benefits is available at the government benefits website.

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