More than £5 billion of means-tested benefits go unclaimed by older people every year, according to the charity Age UK. Free help and advice is available from The Centre’s professionally trained staff and online.
Our own experience, here at The Centre, is that often, older people feel that claiming a benefit funded through the National Insurance system is a ‘handout’. It is worth remembering that it is actually an insurance claim payout from a statutory policy that many older people have paid premiums into for almost 50 years!
Many of the benefits are aimed at long-term savings for the public purse – Attendance Allowance (AA) payments, for example, can often help pay for additional support around the home. This can help maintain an older persons’ independence and avoids or delays the need for expensive care home places. Knowing this can sometimes be a comfort to those who feel they are taking from others, who are in greater need.
The sort of help available can vary depending on individual circumstances. It can seem like a minefield to many and again, asking for help can feel like burdening people; it can also feel like a very intrusive process – hard for a generation used to ‘quietly getting on with it’. Again, providing this help and support at an early stage can ease things for everyone later on.
Funds may be available for:
- help around the home,
- paying for a carer,
- Council Tax payments,
- travel costs to medical appointments,
- help with heating costs,
- rent payments,
- one-off payments from the Social Fund.