Over the next two months everyone aged 66 or above living in the UK should get extra money to help with the cost of keeping warm. The Winter Fuel Payment has been increased this year by £300, making the standard rate now £500 – this is paid per household of one or two people if at least one was born on or before 25 September 1956. Anyone in the household born on or before 25 September 1942 counts as 80 – and the payment is then £600.

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A couple who both qualify will normally get half those amounts each. But if one household member is, say, 70 and one 85 then the £600 is split so the younger one gets £250 (half of £500) and the older one gets the balance, £350.

If more than two qualifying people share a home then they will normally each get a half-payment, however many they are. The Department for Work and Pensions has told me that includes pensioners who take in paying lodgers who are also over 66 – they will each get half the payment. So someone who lives alone but rents a room to another pensioner will find their own payment is reduced. People in care homes get half the standard amounts – £250 or £300 – but if they receive pension credit or income support they are not entitled to it.

Winter Fuel Payment is linked only to age if you live in the UK – so people with no state pension or other benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions are still entitled to it. If you reach the qualifying age for the first time this year or haven’t received Winter Fuel Payment before, you should put in a claim.

The Winter Fuel Payment is tax-free and does not affect entitlement to any other benefits. It will be transferred to bank accounts in November and December. If you have not received yours by 13 January you should enquire. You can call 0800 731 0160 to claim or to report a missing payment. Have your National Insurance number to hand.

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Need more information? Visit gov.uk and search “winter fuel payment”.

QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column

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