13/03/2002

Lodge claims for Winter Fuel Payments now say NICAB

With the last day for making a claim for a Winter Fuel Payment this year set as March 31, the Northern Ireland Citizens Advice Bureau (NICAB) has urged people to lodge their claims in good time.

This year’s payment is £200 and is made to people aged 60 or over providing they are eligible.

As a result of a European Court of Justice ruling that decided that it was sex discrimination to pay Winter Fuel Payments to women under 65 but not to men. As a result Winter Fuel Payments were extended to men as well as women aged 60 and over. This means that many people who did not previously receive a Winter Fuel Payment may now be eligible for payments as far back as Winter 1997/98.

Siobhán Harding, Information and Policy Officer, NIACAB, Said: “CAB are urging people over 60 to check their eligibility for a Winter Fuel Payment. It is possible that due to the 1999 Court ruling some people, particularly men over 60, could miss out as they may not be aware of their entitlement.

"We are advising anyone who thinks they might be entitled to this payment to complete a claim form before the end of March or contact their local CAB for more information.”

If a person is aged 60 or over for at least one day during the qualifying week they will be eligible for a payment. The qualifying week for this year is September 17 to 23, 2001. In some cases those aged 60 or over in the qualifying week will be excluded from Winter Fuel Payments, for example, if a person is receiving income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance and lives in a nursing home or residential care.

The payment for 2001/02 is £200 full rate and £100 reduced rate and only one payment per individual will be made.

CAB throughout Northern Ireland hold information on Winter Fuel Payments and the eligibility conditions.

Winter Fuel Payments are an annual tax-free payment made to people aged 60 or over.

It is not the same as a cold weather payment, which depends on how cold the weather is and is available to certain groups of people in receipt of income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance.

Automatic payments of Winter Fuel Payments are made to pensioners and those who previously made a successful claim without the need to complete an application form each year.

(SP)

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