Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland today urged people born on or before 5 January 1952, who have not received a Winter Fuel Payment before, to pick up the phone and check if they are eligible.
Minister McCausland said: “With winter fast approaching it is imperative that older people get all the support they need to be able to meet the costs of their heating bills. Winter Fuel Payments are paid to those people born on or before 5 January 1952. Many people may not realise that you do not need to be claiming benefits to qualify for this extra money.
“Previous recipients of Winter Fuel Payments will automatically receive their payment before Christmas and if you were in receipt of State Pension or certain other benefits during the week of 16-22 September 2013 you will also receive it automatically.”
The benefits which ensure that you receive an automatic payment are Income Support, State Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, State Pension, Widows Benefit, Bereavement Benefit, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefits and War Pensions.
The Minister continued: “However, some older people who have never before received a Winter Fuel Payment and who were not receiving State Pension or certain benefits on the qualifying week, will need to apply. I would therefore encourage all of these people born on or before 5 January 1952 to contact the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0845 9151 515 to check if they can make a claim.”
Winter Fuel payments are £200 for those households with someone over women’s state pension age and £300 for those households with someone aged 80 or over. If there is more than one eligible claimant in the household the payment is split between them.
New claimants can also download a form online at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment or call the helpline on 0845 9151 515, (0845 601 5613 for textphone users).
Payments will start to issue in November and new claims must be received no later than 31 March 2014.
Notes to editors:
1. The Winter Fuel Payments scheme was introduced in January 1998 to help alleviate fuel poverty by providing help specifically to older people towards their winter fuel bills.
2. A Winter Fuel Payment is paid to eligible claimants each winter to provide help with fuel bills. This year claimants are eligible if they were born on or before 5 January 1952 and are ordinarily resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland for at least 1 day in the qualifying week of 16-22 September 2013.
3. However, some people won’t qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if, during the week of 16–22 September 2013 if:
· they were in hospital for more than 52 weeks previously, getting free treatment as an inpatient
· they were in custody serving a court sentence
· they were subject to immigration control and did not qualify for help from the Department for Social Development
· they were in residential care for the previous 12 weeks or more and received Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
4. Claimants who qualified for a Winter Fuel Payment in the UK before they moved to an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland may still be able to receive the payment while living in that country. Claimants who have not previously received a Winter Fuel Payment and who are habitually resident in Switzerland or an EEA country during the qualifying week, may still qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if they have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK, for example they have lived or worked in the UK.