Most people aged over 60 can apply now to get help towards their winter energy costs.
Under the Government's winter fuel payments scheme, you can make a claim if you reached 60 by 5 July and were living in the UK on any day between 20-26 September.
If eligible, you'll get a lump sum of up to £250 tax-free, while the over 80s get up to £400.
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 should download a claim form and return it to the Pensions Service, or ring 08459 15 15 15 for the paperwork (full details on the Direct.gov site). Claims must be made by 30 March 2011 for winter 2010/11 payments.
While you can't claim backdated payments from 2001-onwards, you can claim for winters between 1997/98 and 1999/2000 inclusive if you missed out.
You can't get a winter fuel payment if, during the week of 20-26 September:
- You've been in hospital getting free treatment for 52 weeks.
- You were in prison.
- You were subject to immigration control and were not eligible for government help.
- You've were living in a care home for at least 12 weeks and got an income related benefit such as Pension Credit.
Further reading/Key links
Check benefits: Benefit check-up
Cheap energy: Cheap gas and electricity
Government info: Winter Fuel Payments