What are the rules on Cold Weather Payments (ie in addition to the usual Winter Fuel Payment) for pensioners? Was the recent period of snowfalls a sufficient trigger? Do I
need to apply for the payment or is it sent
Harvinder Channa, information specialist in income, benefits and finance at Age Concern, says that the Cold Weather Payment is a flat-rate £25 for each consecutive period of seven days when the average temperature is 0°C or below. As you say, it is in addition to the Winter Fuel Payment, which gives up to £400 to pensioners regardless of how cold the weather is.
The recent snowfalls did trigger cold weather payments to many individuals across the UK.
You are eligible if you are entitled to Pension Credit, Income Support with a pensioner or disability premium, or income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) with a pensioner or disability premium. The payments should be sent to you automatically without having to claim.
The amount of savings you have is not taken into account and cold weather payments will not affect other benefits you may be getting.
As well as qualifying pensioners, the payment is available to under-60s – for example, if you receive Child Tax Credit and it includes an individual element for a child or qualifying young person who is disabled or severely disabled.
The weekly payment is triggered when the average temperature at a specified weather station has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0°C or below over seven consecutive days. This must be for the area in which your home is situated.
If you think you are entitled to this benefit but didn't receive it, contact the Pension Service on 08456 060 265 or your local Jobcentre Plus, depending on which of these pays your benefits.
Winter Fuel Payments should also be sent out automatically each year in most cases. If you are aged between 60 and 79, your household is entitled to £250. If you are aged 80 or over, the payment rises to £400 (for 2008/09). However, if you're a man aged 60-64, you will need to make a claim because you are not of pension age. To ask about payments or to make a claim, phone the Winter Fuel Helpline: 08459 151515.
FT.com, 6th March 2009