Benefits Expert: ‘Do I need to sign at the Jobcentre?’

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Q AM I entitled to the £200 Winter Fuel Payment? I was 60 in August but will not be due my State Pension until January 2013.

Kath (by iPad)

A YOU have to be a bit more than 60 to get the Winter Fuel Payment these days.

 To be eligible this winter a person must have reached the qualifying age by week commencing 19 September 2011.

 The qualifying age (for both men and women) is the age when a woman reaches State Pension age.

 This used to be 60 but has been gradually rising since April 2010 as the pension age for women is being brought in to line with men.

 Someone like you, reaching that age in January 2013 will not qualify until the winter of 2013/14 if the rules stay the same.

Q I AM 61 years old. At what age and under what circumstances does someone qualify for Pension Credit?

Bob (by e-mail)

A THE qualifying age for Guarantee Pension Credit is also the age at which women qualify for their State Pension.

 This is currently 60 years and nine months, which makes you old enough to claim.

 A person qualifies for Guarantee Pension Credit if their income (plus that of their partner if they have one) is below a certain level.

 This level is usually £137.35 a week for a single person or £209.70 a week for a couple.

 The level will be higher for certain people who are severely disabled, certain carers or those with a mortgage.

 Most types of income are taken into account when Guarantee Pension Credit is calculated but some disability benefits are ignored.

 The first £10,000 of savings (or joint savings in the case of a couple) is ignored and every £500 of savings above £10,000 is treated as income of £1 a week.

Q I AM 64 and will draw my State Pension next September. I have been made redundant having worked since I was 15. Do I need to sign at the Jobcentre?

John (Sunderland)

A THERE will be no need for you to register at the Jobcentre for National Insurance Credits or any other purpose if you do not wish to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. You need 30 years of qualifying National Insurance to be eligible for the basic State Pension and I am sure you will have attained these.

 Even if you did require National Insurance Credits these would be awarded without your having to claim them.

 Men who have reached women’s pension age will have National Insurance Credits awarded automatically if they are not liable to pay National Insurance Contributions