The cost of keeping your home warm in winter can soon mount up, especially when the temperature drops. So, to help those 63 or over cope with the cost of heating their home, the government introduced Winter Fuel Payments.
These are simple one off payments of up to £300 made at the start of each winter.
Do you qualify for winter fuel payments?
If you are over the age of 63 then there is a good chance that you will qualify for a winter fuel payment in the winter of 2016-2017.
Exactly how much you get will depend on your circumstances:
If you were over 80 years old between 19th and 25th September and live alone, or are the only person living in your property who qualifies for the Winter Fuel Payment, you should be eligible for the full £300.
If you were born on or before 5th May, 1953 but are aged under 80, then you should qualify for a payment of £200.
If you live with someone else who qualifies for the payment the amount you get will be split between the two of you. For example if you are both over 80 years old you will receive £150 each.
You may also be able to get payment if you live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area country and have genuine links with the UK.
There are a couple of exceptions: if during the week of the 21st - 27th September 2015 you are or have been living in a care home or independent hospital for the past 12 weeks and are already receiving other benefits such as Pension Credit, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, if you need permission to enter the UK and do not qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions, if you have lived in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain or are in Prison you will not qualify for the Winter Fuel payment.
However, if you are living in a care home or independent hospital but do not receive any of the benefits listed above then you will be entitled to half the standard payment - so £100, or £150 if you are over 80.
For more information on eligibility visit the GOV.UK website.
How do you claim?
If you were paid the Winter Fuel Payment last year and your circumstances have not changed since then, you should automatically be paid again this year without needing to submit a claim.
If you think that you are eligible for a winter fuel payment and did not get it last winter, then you can claim by completing a form on the GOV.UK website and sending it to the specified address or by phoning 03459 15 15 15.
GOV.UK website states that "Any money you get won't affect your other benefits" so there is no need to worry about any benefit or tax implications.
All claims for winter 2016/17 have to be made by the 31st March 2017 deadline.
Who is eligible for a Cold Weather Payment?
A Cold Weather Payment is designed to help those on a low-income cope with the cost of heating their home at times when it i particularly cold in the area they live.
You will be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you receive or have one of the following:
Disability or pensioner premium
Disabled child premium
Child Tax Credit (that includes a disability element)
A child under 5 years old
How much do I get for a Cold Weather Payment?
If you are eligible for a Cold Weather Payment, you will receive £25 for every week that the average temperature in your local area does, or is forecast to drop to 0 degrees C or lower for 7 days in a row, between 1st November and 31st March.
There is no need to apply for the payment - you should receive it directly into your bank account within 14 working days for every week that the temperature drops below zero for 7 consecutive days.
What if I am eligible and have not received anything?
If you think you are eligible for either the Winter Fuel Payment or Cold Weather Payment but have not received anything, it is worth contacting JobCentre Plus or your pension center and explaining your situation, as they may be able to back-date payments for you as well as make sure you are getting the relevant help from now on.