The rules that govern which people are eligible for heating allowance in the UK are slightly complicated. Many people who are eligible for payments receive them automatically through the same systems that administer their other benefits, but others who are eligible need to apply to get the money they are entitled to. The following is a guide to help you determine whether you are eligible for Winter Fuel Payment or Cold Weather Payments, so you can apply for and receive the money you need to stay warm.
Who is Eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment?
In order to be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, you must meet the following criteria.
Winter Fuel Payment is only paid to the older people in UK society. The minimum age you need to be to claim the Winter Fuel Payment changes every year, as it is rising in line with the female state pension age.
For the winter of 2012-2013, only people born on or before the 5th July 1951 are eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment.
For the winter of 2013-2014, only people born on or before the 5th January 1952 are eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment.
For the winter of 2014-2015, only people born on or before the 5th July 1952 are eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment.
Even if you meet the age requirement, you will still not be eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment if any of the following exceptions apply to you:
If you were in prison during the week of 17 to 23 September 2012, you would not be eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment during the winter of 2012-2013.
If during the week of 17 to 23 September 2012 you were in hospital, and you had been in hospital for at least a year beforehand, you would not be eligible to claim the Winter Fuel Payment.
If you have been living in a care home for 12 weeks or more, you cannot claim the Winter Fuel Payment, even if you are receiving other income-based benefits such as Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, or ESA.
If your immigration status excludes you from claiming benefits, you are not eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment.
Living Abroad and Claiming the Winter Fuel Payment
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for UK citizens to claim the Winter Fuel if they live outside of the UK. However, there are a few conditions you must meet to claim the Winter Fuel Payment while living overseas. You must have already qualified for the Winter Fuel Payment before you left the UK. Furthermore, you can only claim the Winter Fuel Payment if you live in another country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland; UK citizens living outside this area are not eligible to claim the payment.
Receiving the Winter Fuel Payment
Most people who are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment will receive it automatically. The payment is administered using the same system as is used to distribute the State Pension and certain other benefits, including Pension Credit and Incapacity Benefit, so if you already are in receipt any of these benefits you should receive the Winter Fuel Payment once you reach the age of eligibility.
If you do not receive the State Pension, but you meet the eligibility requirements for the Winter Fuel Payments, you will need to make a claim to receive this heating benefit. You can make either a claim via the gov.uk website or write to the Winter Fuel Payment Team via the address given on the gov.uk site.
If you claim before the end of September, you should receive your payment before Christmas. People who receive the payment automatically will receive the money in either November or December, following a letter informing them that the payment will soon be arriving.
Cold Weather Payment Eligibility
The other benefit that exists in the UK to help people meet their heating bills is the Cold Weather Payment. This allowance only applies when the temperature in your local area dips below zero degrees Celsius for a period of 7 days or longer.
Who is Eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?
Only people who are already receiving one of the following benefits are eligible for the Cold Weather Payment. In each case, there are also some further conditions that must be met in order to be eligible.
Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
There are two components to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA): a universal component which is paid to anyone who has made enough National Insurance contributions, and an income-based component which is means tested. If you are receiving income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will also be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment if you have a disabled child, a child under 5, or if you receive a disability or pensioner premium on top of your JSA.
Income-Based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance is paid to people who are disabled or suffering from an illness that makes working difficult. You can receive income-based ESA if you are unemployed or in work, providing you meet the eligibility and income requirements. In addition, you’ll also get Cold Weather Payments to help you meet your heating costs if you receive the work-related component of ESA, if you have a disabled child or a child under five, or if you receive a severe disability premium in addition to the standard rate of ESA.
Receiving Cold Weather Payments
If you are eligible for Cold Weather Payments, you will receive them automatically. To make sure that you get the money you are entitled to during spells of severe cold, make sure that you keep the Jobcentre informed of any changes in your circumstances, for example if you have a new baby.