The heating allowance, also known as Winter Fuel Payments, is a program run by the British government to help older people pay their fuels bills in the winter. Eligibility depends on a few criteria, and there are a few groups who are not eligible for the Winter Fuel Payments.
The Winter Fuel Allowance is available to all those who are aged 60 or above, regardless of income. For example, to get the Winter Fuel Allowance for the winter of 2010-2011, you have to have been born on or before July 5, 1950. You also have to be a British citizen to claim the Winter Fuel Allowance, or you have to be an eligible recipient of Department of Work and Pensions support.
To get the Winter Fuel allowance, you have to be a resident of the United Kingdom during the week in September. For the 2010-2011 winter calculations, according to the government website, the qualification is that "you normally live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland on any day in the week of 20--26 September 2010." Once you have initially qualified, however, you may be eligible for continued payments, even if you move to another European Economic Area country.
You are ineligible for the Winter Fuel allowance if you were present in a government institution during the calculation week, which in 2010 was Sept. 22 to Sept. 26. If you were in prison due to a court sentence, or were in the hospital and had been for more than 52 weeks, you are unable to receive the allowance. Furthermore, if you were in a care home or independent hospital, and were receiving pension credits, job-seeker's allowance or employment and support allowance, you are not eligible for the Winter Fuel Allowance, since you will be able to receive your winter fuel through the institution where you are a resident.
If you are a foreign citizen, and you do not qualify for financial help from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), you cannot receive the winter fuel allowance. If your application for citizenship is processing, however, you may be eligible for the following year, so long as your application is complete by the middle of September period. Once this has been approved, you can apply for the allowance by following the instructions on the Directgov website (see Resources).
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