Housing benefit if you are pension age

Who can get housing benefit

You could get housing benefit to help with rent if you're pension age and on a low income.

Check your state pension age on GOV.UK

You cannot get housing benefit in some situations.

For example, if you:

  • pay rent to a close relative who you live with

  • have more than £16,000 savings - this limit does not apply if you get pension credit

You must meet immigration conditions to get benefits.

Living with a partner who is below pension age?

If you have reached pension age but your partner is still working age, it's often described as being a mixed age couple.

You cannot usually make a new claim for housing benefit as a mixed age couple.

You usually have to apply for universal credit as a couple if you need help with rent.

Getting housing benefit as a mixed age couple already?

If you've been getting housing benefit as a mixed age couple since before 15 May 2019, this continues unless your situation changes.

Some changes could mean that your housing benefit stops, or that you have to claim universal credit instead.

For example, if you:

  • move to a different council area

  • go abroad for more than 4 weeks

  • separate from your partner and then get back together

Call the Age UK advice line for more advice on changes to benefits for couples.

0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year

How to apply for housing benefit

There are 2 ways to apply for housing benefit:

  • your local council - if you only want housing benefit

  • the Pension Service - if you want to apply for pension credit at the same time

Your claim is automatically backdated for up to 3 months if you were entitled to claim earlier.

Apply through your council

Some councils encourage you to apply online if you can.

But you can phone the office for a paper form if you prefer this.

Call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 if you need help with the form.

Apply through the Pension Service

You can only do this if you're applying for pension credit at the same time.

Pension credit can top up your income if you're struggling with living costs in retirement.

There's no form to fill in and you can apply over the phone.

The Pension Service sends your information to your local council.

Your council will:

  • process your housing benefit claim

  • ask for any documents they need to see

Find out more about pension credit from Age UK

Information you will need to provide

You will need certain information when you fill out the form or apply by phone.

For example:

  • who lives with you

  • income and savings

  • how much rent you pay

  • your landlord or agent's details

Supporting evidence

You also have to show the council some documents to support your claim. For example:

  • proof of any income or savings

  • tenancy agreement or letter from your landlord

  • 2 forms of ID (driving licence, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of residence status, recent utility bills or letters from DWP, HMRC or the Home Office)

You must provide original documents. Take important documents to the council office so they can be copied and returned to you immediately.

You have 1 month to provide your supporting evidence

Tell the council if you face any problems with this.

You should get your first housing benefit payment within 2 weeks of providing all the information the council needs to process your claim.

Will housing benefit cover the full rent?

Housing benefit will not always cover your full rent.

For example, if you have:

  • a service charge to pay

  • other income or savings

  • deductions because other people live with you

  • a higher rent because you rent privately

You do not have to pay the bedroom tax if you are pension age.

Service charges

Many service charges are not covered by housing benefit. For example:

  • meals

  • care and support

  • warden alarm systems

  • water or heating charges

Service charges for communal areas can be covered if the charge is reasonable.

If your service charge is not covered, you have to pay it from other income.

Other income and savings

Your rent is more likely to be covered if you get pension credit.

Your income and savings are ignored when your housing benefit is worked out

If you don't get pension credit, your housing benefit will be reduced if you have:

  • more than £10,000 in savings

  • other income such as wages or workplace pensions

Deductions for people who live with you

Your housing benefit could be reduced if adult relatives or friends live with you.

This is called a non dependent deduction. It only applies in some situations.

Deductions do not apply for the first 6 months after your relative or friend moves in.

If you rent privately

Housing benefit is worked out using local housing allowance (LHA) rates if you rent privately.

Your LHA rate is based on the number of bedrooms you can claim for.

When you get your first payment

You should get housing benefit within 2 weeks of giving the the council all the information they need to process your claim. There are sometimes delays.

If it takes longer than 2 weeks and you rent from a private landlord or housing association you should get a 'payment on account' until the claim is processed. 

How housing benefit is paid

Housing benefit is paid in arrears.

If you're a council tenant, your housing benefit is always paid direct to your rent account, usually every 4 weeks.

If you rent from a housing association or private landlord, your housing benefit can go direct to your landlord if:

  • you ask for this to happen

  • the council thinks this will help you

  • you have at least 8 weeks' rent arrears

  • you have deductions from your pension credit for arrears

If none of these apply, it will be paid direct to you. You must then pay rent to your landlord.

You can ask the council to pay your housing benefit calendar monthly or less frequently, depending on when your rent is due.

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Last updated: 14 March 2022

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