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.
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
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
Information you will need to provide
You will need certain information when you fill out the form or apply by phone.
who lives with you
income and savings
how much rent you pay
your landlord or agent's details
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.
Many service charges are not covered by housing benefit. For example:
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