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Don't miss out on a Winter Fuel Payment say's Ritchie

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It will be a warmer winter for more than 300,000 people across Northern Ireland thanks to the Winter Fuel Payments from the Social Security Agency.

Margaret Ritchie, Minister for Social Development, said: “While people aged 60 or over qualify for one payment of £250 per household, rising to £400 for those aged 80 years or over, there may also be people who are working who do not realise that they too are eligible.”

The Minister added: “Most receive this important benefit automatically if they receive a State Pension or other social security benefit (excluding Housing Benefit or Child Benefit).

“However, I am concerned there are others, perhaps those not receiving any benefit or who are working, who do not realise that they are eligible. I encourage them to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline to check if they can claim.”

The Winter Fuel Payment was introduced in 1997 to give financial assistance forwards the cost of heating to people aged 60 and over.

Margaret Ritchie added: “The payment has increased from £20 to its present £250 since it began which is well above the rate of inflation. With the increasing cost of fuel, there is no doubt that some older people may have difficulty budgeting this year. This payment will make a difference and I say to them – don’t miss out."

The winter fuel payment is available to people who reach the qualifying age during 21-27 September 2009. Claim forms can be obtained by ringing the Winter Fuel Payment helpline 08459 15 15 15. Claims must be received no later than 30 March 2010. Anyone who claimed before 25 September 2009 should receive their payment before Christmas. Claims made after this date will be paid by early 2010.

More information about the Payment can be found in the "benefits-in-retirement" section found at “Pensions and retirement planning/ Benefits” on www.nidirect.gov.uklink to external website

Notes to editors:

  1. Winter Fuel Payment is available to both men and women age 60 and over in the qualifying week, 21-27 September.
  2. People who have questions about Winter Fuel Payments can find out more in the “benefits-in-retirement” section found at Pensions and retirement planning/ Benefits on www.nidirect.gov.uklink to external website. They can also contact the helpline on 08459 15 15 15 (0845 601 5613 for Textphone users). The line is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
  3. Further news media enquiries to DSD Press Office tel. 028 9082 9497 or out-of-office-hours contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.