By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey
Q: I am 63 years old and I am in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; will I get a Winter Fuel Payment?
A: A Winter Fuel Payment is an annual lump-sum tax-free payment paid to older people during the winter months. It is not means-tested and it does not affect any other benefits. The amount you receive depends on your circumstances. For the winter of 2015/16 it varies between £100 and £300. You do not have to spend it on fuel costs.
A Winter Fuel Payment is different to Cold Weather Payments, which are paid automatically to certain people who get means-tested benefits, but only for weeks when the weather is very cold.
Who can get a Winter Fuel Payment?
You can get a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2015/16 If you:
• Were born on or before 5 January 1953, and
• Normally live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland on any day in the qualifying week. The qualifying week is 21-27 September 2015.
You can’t get a Winter Fuel Payment if, throughout the qualifying week, you:
• are in prison
• are in hospital getting free treatment for more than 52 weeks
• need permission to enter the UK and don’t qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions
• have lived in a care home for the previous 12 weeks or more and get Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• lived in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain
Do you need to claim a Winter Fuel Payment?
Most people do not need to make a claim for a Winter Fuel Payment. If you received a Winter Fuel Payment last year and your circumstances haven’t changed, you should receive it automatically, or if you are getting retirement pension or any other social security benefit (apart from child benefit and housing benefit) in the qualifying week. Otherwise, you must claim a Winter Fuel Payment on or before 31st March following the qualifying week.
If you should have received an automatic payment but have not done so by the end of December, you should contact the Fuel Payments Helpline. Winter Fuel Payments Helpline - Tel: 0845 915 1515 (Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm), Textphone: 0845 601 5613, Website: www.direct.gov.uk
If you qualify for payment and are not in one of the groups that receive it automatically you should make a claim. You can find claim forms on the website www.gov.uk
If you need to make a claim, you must do so on or before 31 March following the winter to which the payment applies. Late claims cannot be accepted.
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice – go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm), email advice is available at firstname.lastname@example.org