If you are a United Kingdom pensioner who is living abroad, you may still be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment. About 75,000 pensioners living in one of the counties in the European Economic Union shared in payments of almost Â£13 million during the previous year. If you meet eligibility requirement, and you are not already receiving the allowance, then you may want to consider submitting a Winter Fuel Payment claim for next winter.
The United Kingdoms winter fuel payment program is a benefit that is intended to help pensioners heat their homes during the winter. It provides monetary relief up to Â£300 depending on the pensioners age. The amount is reduced for younger pensioners, and it is also reduced if the pensioner occupies their home with other eligible pensioners. Payments are normally sent out in October and November, and almost all payments are received by the end of December.
Many pensioners receiving a State Pension automatically receive a payment for the Winter Fuel Payment. But, if you are not currently signed up for the program, then you will need to submit a claim form. You can download the claim form for those living abroad at gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/how-to-claim. The website has a separate claim form for those living in the United Kingdom, so you need to make sure you download the correct form.
If you live in Switzerland, you are also eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment if you meet all of the eligibility requirements. Even pensioners living in care homes may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment under certain circumstances, so you should go to the gov.uk website and research the full details on eligibility to determine if you should make a claim for next winter.
Basically, you may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment if your date of birth is on or before a certain date. The date changes every year, but the eligibility date for winter 2012 was for pensioners born on or before July 5, 1951. If you are over 80 years old, you may qualify for the maximum benefit amount. During the winter of 2012, the maximum amount if you lived alone and were under 80 years old was Â£200. The maximum amount if were over 80 years old was Â£300.
You are not eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if you are currently in prison or you were in the hospital for 52 weeks or more. Also, you are not eligible if you spent 12 weeks or more in a care facility and received certain types of government assistance.
Many experts predicate the number of pensioners living abroad who will make a Winter Fuel Payment claim will continue to increase next winter. But, even as an increasing number of pensioners abroad are forecast to take advantage of the Winter Fuel Payment, there is a growing movement to limit the number of claimants by implementing a temperature test. Although plans for a temperature test still have a long way to go before they are finalized, its implementation could seriously reduce the number of claimants both abroad and in the United Kingdom. If a temperature test is established, then the temperature limit would probably affect pensioners living in warmer countries of the European Economic Union as well as southern parts of the United Kingdom. So, if you have not sent in a claim for the Winter Fuel Payment previously, you may want to get your claim completed before a temperature test is implemented.
The Winter Fuel Payment was established to help pensioners cope with the ever rising cost of energy. If you are a pensioner, you should consider sending in a claim form even if you live abroad. The Winter Fuel Payment is one of your benefits as a citizen of the United Kingdom, so you should take advantage of it if you feel you are eligible.
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