Every household with someone aged 60 or over is entitled to help towards their winter energy costs.
Under the Government's winter fuel payments scheme, you can make a claim if you had reached the qualifying age on or before 27 September 2009.
The over 60s can claim a lump sum up to £250 tax-free, while the over 80s get up to £400 (increased from £200 and £350, respectively, last year).
Payments can take a few months to arrive so the earlier you apply the better.
How to claim
If you have received the winter fuel payment in previous years, or receive the State Pension, you do not need to do anything, and payments will be made automatically in November or December.
Anyone else will need download a claim form and return it to the Pensions Service, or ring 08459 15 15 15 (full details on the Direct.gov site). Claims must be made by 30 March 2010 for winter 09/10 payments.
While you can't claim backdated payments from 2001-onwards, you can claim for winters between 1997 and 2000 inclusive.
You can't get a winter fuel payment if:
- You've been in hospital getting free treatment for 52 weeks.
- You are in prison.
- You are subject to immigration control and are not eligible for Government help.
- You've been living in a care home for at least 12 weeks and get an income related benefit eg Pensio Credit.
As well as claiming this cash, check your energy tariff against the alternatives via a comparison site to see if you can cut costs (see the Cheap Gas and Electricity guide).
Many who've never switched before can save £250 a year, and even those who have switched could see savings of over £100.
Over 60s should factor in the Staywarm deal to any comparison. It is a special tariff provided by E.On which charges a fixed price for the year provided you have a maximum three bedrooms, and fewer than four people living in your home.
However, the majority of comparison sites don't include this tariff.
Further reading/Key links
Check benefits: Benefit check-up
Cheap energy: Cheap gas and electricity
Government info: Winter Fuel Payments