We all think about our energy bills a bit more as the nights draw in.

Don't worry if you find you need a little help to cover your heating costs. There's lots of support out there, including the Winter Fuel Payment (also called the Winter Fuel Allowance).

This is a tax-free payment made by the UK Government to help pensioners pay for their energy.

You’ll find useful information about how to claim below. We’ll also explain who can get the Winter Fuel Allowance and when it’s paid.

Who is eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment?

To be eligible, you must qualify for the State Pension. There’s a qualifying week each year, normally in September. During that week you must be over a certain age to claim the payment.

The qualifying date of birth is published on the Gov.uk website each year. You’ll also find details of the qualifying week in the same place.

You won’t be able to claim the Winter Fuel Payment if, during the qualifying week:

  • You were in prison.
  • You were in hospital getting free treatment for more than 52 weeks.
  • You needed permission to enter the UK and didn’t qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • You had lived in a care home for the previous 12 weeks or more and got certain types of benefits.
  • You were living abroad. You may be able to get the payment if you live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country and have a genuine link to the UK.
  • You lived in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain. That’s because these countries have a higher average winter temperature than the UK.

You’ll find full details of who qualifies on the Gov.uk website.

How much is the Winter Fuel Payment and when is the payment date?

The payment is usually between £100 and £300, but can vary from year to year. How much you get also depends on your age, who you live with and the benefits you get.

You can see the details of this year’s payment when they're published.

The payment is usually made between November and December. Before it’s paid you’ll get a letter telling you how much you’ll receive.

Payments are made directly into your bank account.

How do I claim for a Winter Fuel Payment?

If you get the State Pension you should receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically. You’ll also get it without applying if you’re old enough and claim certain benefits.

If you’ve not applied before and don’t receive a pension or the right benefits, you'll need to apply. You can do this by email, phone or sending a claim form by post. You’ll find the application instructions on the Gov.uk website.

Other government grants and schemes to help with your bills

If you don’t qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment, you might be able to claim help from other schemes.

You could also get the Warm Home Discount. This is paid by your electricity supplier.

At SSE, we understand that when it comes to managing your energy bills and usage, there are times when a little extra help, or inclusive services, can make all the difference.

That's why we offer you the option to sign up to our Priority Services Register, giving you extra support when you need it the most. It gives you free and direct access to our friendly call centre staff, who can offer advice on a range of helpful and accessible services.