Guide to benefits in retirement
When you retire, your income will usually be less than when you were working. To help you manage, you may be able to get certain benefits and financial support in addition to your State Pension. Some benefits are age-related, others depend on your income.
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Basic State Pension
Eligibility for the basic State Pension depends on your record of National Insurance contributions (NICs). You can choose to claim your basic State Pension to get it when you reach State Pension age, or put off claiming it to get more later on.
Changes to State Pension age
The age you receive your State Pension could be changing. To find out if you are affected, see ‘Calculating your State Pension age’.
Additional State Pension
The additional State Pension is also known as the State Second Pension (formerly the State Earnings-Related Pensions Scheme (SERPS) pension). Eligibility is based on a combination of your earnings from employment, and NICs you have made or been credited with. You may also be eligible for other reasons, such as a disability or because you've spent time caring for someone. If you qualify, you'll automatically get the additional State Pension when you claim your basic State Pension.
Over 80 Pension
If you're aged 80 or over and have little or no State Pension, you may be able to get the Over 80 Pension.
Understanding Pension Credit
If you're a pensioner living in Northern Ireland you may be entitled to Pension Credit – extra money to top up your income. It's made up of two elements – the 'Guarantee Credit' element and the 'Savings Credit' element (which may be payable from age 65).
The age from which you may be able to get the Guarantee Credit is gradually going up to 66 in line with the increase in State Pension age for women, and the further increase to 66 for men and women.
Pension Credit and free school meals
Children whose parents, carers or guardians receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are entitled to free school meals or milk. Your local education and library board must provide free school meals to eligible students where requested.
Changes to State Pension age
The State Pension age is increasing. To find out more see ‘Calculating your State Pension age’.
Cold Weather Payment
You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment to help with extra heating costs during periods of very cold weather. Payments are made automatically - you don't need to claim.
Winter Fuel Payment
You may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with fuel bills if you have reached the qualifying age by the end of the third week of September. The age from which you can get Winter Fuel Payment - the qualifying age - is increasing in line with the State Pension age for women.
The tax-free annual benefit is normally paid from November - most payments are made by Christmas.
The Social Fund
The Social Fund provides one-off payments and interest-free loans to help with expenses in certain situations.
Crisis Loans are interest-free loans if you need financial help with an emergency or disaster.
Budgeting Loans may be provided to help people on a low income to pay for things like furniture, clothes and travel.
Community Care Grants
If you need financial help to live independently in the community or to ease exceptional pressure on you or your family, you may be eligible for a Community Care Grant. You don't have to pay it back.
If you need financial help to pay for a funeral you're arranging, you may be able to get a one-off Funeral Payment. You might have to repay some or all of it from the estate of the person who died.
Help for people who have lost out on a pension
If you've lost out on a pension or your company becomes insolvent with insufficient funds in its pension scheme, there may be a way to access your pension.
- What to do if your company pension scheme can't pay your pension
You can get Attendance Allowance if you're aged 65 or over and need help with personal care because of an illness or disability.
If you look after someone who's severely disabled, you may be able to claim Carer's Allowance. If you're severely disabled, someone who looks after you may be able to claim Carer's Allowance.
Lone Pensioner Allowance
Rate payers aged 70 or over and living alone may be entitled to a 20 per cent reduction in their rates.
People on low incomes, including pensioners, may receive a reduction in their rates through the Rate Relief Scheme which is only available in Northern Ireland.