Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood MLA, has urged people in Northern Ireland to make sure they are receiving the help they are entitled to, to heat their homes this winter.
Minister Attwood asked those who were born on, or before 5 July 1950 – and who have not received a Winter Fuel Payment before - to check if they are eligible before September 24.
Alex Attwood said: “I want to make sure people know about the Winter Fuel Payment, particularly those who do not realise they are eligible perhaps because they are still working. I encourage them to contact the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 08459 15 15 15 to check if they can claim.”
Most people will receive their Winter Fuel Payment automatically if they already receive a state pension or other social security benefit, excluding housing benefit or child benefit.
The Minister added “It costs about £700 to heat a two-bedroom bungalow for a year, most of this during the winter months. Through the Winter Fuel Payment, many people can receive an additional £250 to heat their homes, and £400 if they’re over 80. This would go a long way to ensuring that people across Northern Ireland are warm and comfortable in their homes this winter.”
If you’ve already received a claim form, send it in now. If you haven’t got a form, don’t worry - you can either complete one online at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment or call the helpline on 08459 15 15 15, (0845 601 5613 for textphone users).
If you claim by 24 September you should get your money before Christmas. If your form is received after 24 September, a payment before Christmas can’t be guaranteed but will still be processed.
1. The Winter Fuel Payment was introduced in 1997 and is one of a number of initiatives the government has introduced to help older people with warmth and well being during the winter months.
2. The qualifying age for Winter Fuel Payments for both men and women is rising in line with the increase in women’s State Pension age. To have reached the qualifying age for a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2010/11 you will need to be born on or before 5 July 1950.
3. Anyone born on or before 5 July 1950 may qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment of £250 per household. Households with someone aged 80 or over could get a payment of £400. Where two or more eligible people share a household payments are made at a shared rate.
4. Most people will have to do nothing, as their payment will be sent to them automatically. A payment will be made automatically if:
- During the week of 20 – 26 September 2010, people were getting a State Pension or other social security benefit (apart from Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, or Child Benefit); or
- Recipients got a payment last year and their circumstances haven’t changed.
5. People who normally receive Winter Fuel Payments automatically, but have had a change of circumstances since last year’s payment, must contact The Pension Service (Windsor House) to ensure their payments continue. This could include a change in bank account, a new address or a change in benefit entitlement.
6. Some people don’t need to send in a claim or phone the helpline, because they will get their payment automatically because their details are already recorded on a benefit system. This applies to anyone born on or before 5 July 1950 who gets any of these benefits:
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Graduated Retirement Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Carer’s Allowance
- State Pension
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- War Pension
- Widow’s Benefit.