This is a huge and complicated subject and I will break it down into small sections.
I will start by looking at benefits for older people.
The main benefit is State Retirement Pension. This depends on how many National Insurance Contributions you have made. Sometimes people do not claim benefits because they would not actually get any money but it is always worth claiming so that your National Insurance is credited. A woman used to get paid State Retirement Pension at 60 and a man at 65 but the age for both is gradually being increased to 68. You may still be working and have a good income but you will still get your pension if you have paid enough N.I. The current amount is £122.30. You can check your National Insurance record at www.gov.uk or telephone 0300 200 3500. You may find you can pay to round up incomplete years and this is a good thing to do if you can manage it. Even if you have an Occupational Pension you still get your State Pension if you have paid enough N.I.
If your State Retirement Pension is your only income and you have savings of less than £10,000 you will get other benefits. Your pension will get Guarantee Credit to make it up to £159.35 for a single person or £243.25 for a couple. You will still get this even if you have not paid much National Insurance. You should get Council Tax Reduction and if you pay rent you should get Housing Benefit. You may also get Cold Weather Payments.
Most Pensioners will receive a Winter Fuel payment of £200 and a £10 Christmas Bonus as well as a Bus Pass.
If your are over 65 and unlucky enough to become ill or frail and have care needs you can claim Attendance Allowance. This is £55.10 per week if you just need help in the day rising to £82.30 if you need help at night as well. If you are terminally ill and have less than six months to live this Benefit is paid quickly and handled sensitively. No one checks how you spend Attendance Allowance. You use it as you see fit.
If you think you may be eligible for any benefits you can telephone the CAB and ask for an appointment for a Benefit Check. If I am doing a Benefit Check in general I use a computer programme to make sure I have not missed anything. If I see someone is from Abernethy I usually ask someone else to do the check. Although everything is completely confidential it saves embarrassment.
My greatest job satisfaction as an Adviser is when I see an old person who is struggling and I find they are entitled to a Benefit which will help them.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is completely confidential. The articles I write for the Crier are always based on true stories but I disguise the client so they could never be identified.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is at 7 Atholl Crescent. Drop in is 10am-12 noon, Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment in the afternoon. If the line is busy you can leave a message and you will get a call-back. The number will come up as Withheld to protect your privacy.
01738 450580 is the Advice Line. This line is often busy but if you leave a message your call will be returned.
Everything is confidential, even the fact that you visited the bureau.
There is also a web-site run by the CAB. Adviceguide.org.uk covers many topics and is easy to use.