What is the Winter Fuel Payment?
The Winter Fuel Payment is a government scheme set up to help older people meet their energy bills every year. It's available if you're born on or before 5 May 1953, and is worth between £100 and £300 per person every year.
Do I qualify for the payment?
You will probably be eligible for winter fuel payment in 2016/17 if you were born on or before 5 May 1953.
The date for eligibility changes every year, so even if you can't claim the payment this year, this may change in the future.
How much will I get?
How much you get depends on your age and circumstances during the qualifying week of 19 to 25 September 2016 (the dates change annually).
If you live on your own, or if everyone you live with is ineligible for a winter fuel payment, you'll receive £300 if you are over 80 or £200 if you are younger.
If you live with another person who also qualifies, payments are usually split. For example, you'll get £100 each if you're under 80.
Payments are tax-free, and won't impact on any other benefits you might be claiming.
How do I apply for the winter fuel payment?
If you receive certain benefits, you don't have to make a claim. These include the state pension, pension credit, income support and incapacity benefit.
If you qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment, and don't receive any of these benefits, you'll need to make a claim. Go to Gov.uk or call 08459 15 15 15.
When will I get the winter fuel payment?
Winter Fuel Payments are typically made in November or December. You should receive payment by 25 December if you've claimed the allowance before.
Otherwise, payments can take several months to arrive so apply as soon as possible. Payments are made automatically if you've claimed for previous years.
Once you've applied you'll receive a letter with a payment date and details of how much you'll be paid.
Can I claim for previous years?
No. This used to be possible, but rules have changed so you cannot claim Winter Fuel Payment for previous winters.
What if I live abroad?
You can claim the winter fuel payment if you receive a state pension and live in Switzerland or most European Economic Area (EEA) countries.
The exceptions are for expats who live in countries where the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest part of the UK. This means you won't receive the winter fuel payment if you live in in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Malta and Greece.
Can I get more help to pay my energy bills?
Older people claiming certain benefits, regardless of age, can also get cash through the Cold Weather Payments. A payment of £25 is made each time there's a week of very cold weather - zero degrees Celsius or below - between November and March.
This is paid automatically if you qualify. For more information see our Cold Weather Payments guide. You should also compare your tariff to others available to ensure you're on the best deal. You could save hundreds of pounds a year by switching suppliers - it's easy to compare tariffs using MoneySuperMarket's energy comparison.
Finally, if you're struggling to pay bills speak to your energy provider to see what help it can offer.