When is the winter fuel allowance or winter fuel payment paid and how much is it?

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Starting in November, every year, millions of pensioners are sent letters telling them they’re entitled to between £100 and £300 towards their winter fuel bills. The amount you receive depends on your age and is worked out on a ‘per household’ basis. The winter fuel payment is meant to help with fuel costs.

The basics
Winter fuel payment (or winter fuel allowance, as it’s sometimes called) is designed to help older people pay their gas, electricity and/or oil bills in the winter. The rules on who is entitled to it aren’t particularly straightforward, but you should receive the payment automatically – in theory at least – and especially if you’ve received it before.

SAVVY TIP: The government writes to people in November and December telling them when they will receive their winter fuel allowance/payment. If you’ve not received a letter or payment by January, you should contact the Winter Fuel Payments helpline on 0345 915 1515 or 0191 218 7777.

Winter fuel payment is:

– Paid to both men and women at the age at which women receive their state pension. The state pension age started rising for women from 60 in April 2010. It will reach 66 (for both women and men) by October 2020.

SAVVY TIP: Receiving your state pension is one ‘trigger’ for being paid the winter fuel payment. That means that women generally receive the winter fuel allowance without having to apply for it, but some men may not (because they won’t get their state pension until they are 65).

– The payment is worth £200 for each household where one or more people are aged between the women’s state pension age and 80. If there are two of you aged between the state pension age for women and 80, you’ll receive £100 each and if you live on your own or are the only person in your household aged over the state pension age for women, you’ll receive £200.

SAVVY TIP: You will receive the winter fuel payment for the winter of 2015-16 if you were born on or before the 5th of January 1953. You must also have been living in the UK during the week of 21st to 27th September. These dates change every year.

– The payment is worth £300 for each household where one or more people are aged 80 or over. If there’s one of you aged 80 and one under 80, you’ll get half of £300 (£150) plus half of £200 (the lower allowance, which works out at £100). That means in all you’d receive £250. If both of you are aged 80 or over you’ll receive £300 between you and if you live on your own and are aged 80 or over, you’ll receive £300.

SAVVY TIP: The cut off date for qualifying for the higher level of winter fuel payment in the winter of 2015 is September 21st to 27th. So, if you reached 80 on or before September 27th (for the winter of 2015) you should get the higher level of winter fuel payment.

– The payment is not means tested. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have by way of savings, you’ll still receive the winter fuel payment.

How is it paid?
If you get your state pension or other benefits paid into your bank account, that’s how you’ll receive it. Otherwise you may be sent a cheque but if you’d rather have the money paid into a bank account, you can ring the winter fuel payment helpline and they’ll tell you how you can sort this out.

Who doesn’t get winter fuel payment?
Some people who live in a care home and those who don’t live in the UK at a specified date may lose out.

You won’t get winter fuel payment if:

– You don’t normally live in the UK during the ‘qualifying’ week (which is normally the third week of September). The rules say that you have to normally live in the UK for any day during that week.

SAVVY TIP: You can still claim the winter fuel payment if you receive the state pension and live in a country in the European Economic Area, or Switzerland. Having said that, the government doesn’t pay the winter fuel payment to people living in Cyprus, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Greece or Portugal. There’s more information about claiming winter fuel payment if you live in an EEA country on the Gov.uk website.

– You have been in hospital for a year getting free treatment.

– You have been in a care home and are on Pension Credit or other income based benefits.

SAVVY TIP: If you live in a care home you’ll get £100 if you’re over the state pension age for women but under 80 and £150 if you’re over 80 (as long as you don’t get Pension Credit).

– You are in custody.

SAVVY TIP: There’s information on winter fuel payments and claiming winter fuel payment on the government’s Gov.uk website.

Related articles:

Understanding benefits such as Attendance Allowance

What can you do if you’re in debt to your energy company?

How to claim your state pension

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