What are Winter Fuel Payments and how do I apply?

Winter Fuel Payments

For most pensioners, the annual Winter Fuel Payments are essential for covering the extra cost of heating their home during the coldest months. Sometimes called, the winter fuel allowance, this UK government benefit is a tax-free payment to help with heating costs.

 

As it’s paid directly, you’re able to use the money as you see fit. Most will use the money towards their heating bill. However, some might spend the money on food or warmer clothes.

 

It only takes a few minutes to check your eligibility and apply for Winter Fuel Payments. Don’t worry, we’ll talk you through the process and what you can do if you get rejected.

 

 

What is the Winter Fuel Payment?

Designed to help pensioners stay warm during the colder months, the Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off payment between £100 and £300. It works similarly to the Warm Home Discount, with one difference. You receive the money directly rather than being paid to your energy supplier.

 

As with other pensioner benefits, it’s paid automatically if you receive a state pension or Pension Credit. That said, you should always check that you are receiving the payment and put in a claim if you don’t but should.

 

 

Am I eligible for Winter Fuel Payments?

Anyone over the state pension age will receive Winter Fuel Payments, regardless of how much money, assets or income they have.

 

To receive the 2020-2021 payment, you must have been born on or before 5 October 1954. You also should have lived in the UK for at least one day during what’s called the ‘qualifying week’.

 

As you might expect, the qualifying week changes every year. For 2020-2021 payments, it was 21-27 September 2020.

 

You are also eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • Live in Switzerland or an EEA (European Economic Area) country
  • And have a strong link to the UK – for example, if you’ve lived in the UK for most of your life, or your family live here

It takes a few minutes to check when you’ll reach state pension age. And while you’re there, it’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for other benefits using an independent benefits calculator.

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t qualify?

If you’re lucky enough to be too young to claim a state pension, then you won’t be able to claim Winter Fuel Payments.

 

Even if you’re a pension, you won’t be eligible if, during the qualifying week, you:

  • Lived in Cyprus, Gibraltar, France, Greece, Malta, Portugal, or Spain
  • Were in prison for the whole of the week
  • Were in hospital, and had been receiving free treatment for a year or more
  • Needed permission to enter the UK
  • Lived in a care home and received Pension Credit or certain other benefits

 

 

How much is the Winter Fuel Payment?

Depending on your age, you can expect to receive between £100 and £300. The payment will be higher if you’re over 80. If you live alone, you’ll get a higher payment than if you live with others who also qualify.

 

If you live with someone who gets Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), or the income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you won’t qualify for a winter fuel allowance.

 

If you qualify and are under 80:

  • £200 if you live alone
  • £100 if you live with someone else who also qualifies
  • £100 if you live in a care home (and don’t get certain benefits)

 

Over 80 and qualify:

  • £300 if you live alone
  • £200 if you live with someone under 80 who also qualifies
  • £150 if you live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies
  • £150 if you live in a care home (and don’t get certain benefits)

 

 

 

 

How and when will I get paid?

As long as you qualify, you will be paid automatically either directly into your bank account or will receive a cheque via the post. It’s similar to how you normally receive your pension and other benefits.

 

If you’re eligible but don’t receive a state pension or benefits, then you’ll need to claim Winter Fuel Payments, but more on that below.

 

You should receive the payment in November or December. Before you get the payment, the government will send a letter stating when you’ll receive the Winter Fuel Payment.

 

Most will receive the money by 13 January at the latest. If you don’t, then you should contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

 

 

How do I claim if I haven’t received the payment?

If you qualify yet haven’t received your payment automatically, you’ll need to contact the Department of Work and Pensions and put in a claim. You can make a claim via the phone or by post.

 

By post

To claim by post, you’ll need to download a form from the gov.uk website. To fill it in, you’ll need to know:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your bank or building society details
  • Your BIC and IBAN numbers (if you don’t live in the UK)
  • The date you got married or began a civil partnership

Once you’ve filled in your form, post it to:

 

Winter Fuel Payment Centre,

Mail Handling Site A,

Wolverhampton

WV98 1LR

 

By phone

You can also claim by calling the Winter Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160, Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm.

 

 

 

 

Appealing if you’re rejected

If you make a claim but it’s rejected, don’t lose hope as you might be able to appeal the decision.

  • First, you can ask for a written statement explaining why you don’t qualify. This should be in your decision letter. If not, contact the Department of Work and Pensions using the details on your letter.
  • If you’re still not satisfied, then you can ask for what’s called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’, meaning they need to show evidence to support their decision. You have to request this within a month of getting your original decision.
  • Finally, if you’d like to take it further, you can submit a formal appeal to the tribunal.

Turn2Us has an excellent guide on challenging benefits decisions.

 

 

Can I backdate a claim?

If you’ve been eligible for years but haven’t been receiving then you might wonder if you can claim for any missed years. Unfortunately, you can only apply for the current year and the future. So, you should apply now to receive the payment and check each year that you still are eligible.