Free bus pass could be impacted by state pension age changes – check your eligibility

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A free bus pass can be useful as it helps older Britons to get out and about on public transport with no cost. Many people will value this, particularly if they have a limited income in retirement and the bus pass can help them to travel, avoiding isolation, and assisting in a wide variety of tasks. However, the age at which a person can get a free bus pass depends on when they were born and where they live. 

Those who live in Scotland or Northern Ireland will get an older person’s buss pass once they reach the age of 60. This is also the case for individuals who are living in Wales as 60 is the eligibility age here.

However, those who live in England can only get a bus pass for free travel once they reach the state pension age.

The difference is as a result of devolved government rules and travel is one of the jurisdictions which has been moved away from central Government. 

There are some areas where the rule is different, for example, in London where free travel is available at 60.

In the capital, over 60s can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport, but only within London.

For those who live in England, waiting until state pension age – currently set at 66 – could be frustrating.

However, there are further changes afoot which could impact eligibility in the fairly near future.

State pension age is gradually increasing for both men and women, and under the current timetable, it is set to reach 67 by 2028.

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As a result, in areas of the country where the free bus pass age is aligned with state pension age, Britons will potentially have to wait even longer to unlock their entitlement. 

To avoid confusion amid the changes, the Government points people towards the state pension age tool. 

It can be used to check: 

  • When a person will reach state pension age
  • Pension Credit qualifying age
  • When a person will be eligible for free bus travel

Recent analysis from Just Group said pensioners value state “freebies” over other benefits. 

This includes free bus passes, free NHS prescriptions and free TV Licences, alongside the Winter Fuel Payment scheme.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, warned pensioners they need to take action to ensure they do not miss out on important benefit entitlements. 

He said: “When we reach state pension age our eligibility for a wider range of benefits is likely to increase, so it is important that people check that they are not missing out on their entitlement to extra benefit income.

“For many people, the idea of checking to see if they are eligible for benefits will not have been a high priority during their working lives.

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“But as people reduce their paid work then the state pension and associated benefits can become increasingly important.

“The state pension alone will not provide a comfortable standard of living.

“So, checking your entitlement for other state benefits should be as much a part of planning for retirement as understanding what your private pension and other savings will provide.

“The social and cultural reference to ‘freebie’ benefits means nearly all over 65s know about them but their financial value is dwarfed by other benefits which are less well known.”

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