Waterford senior citizens in receipt of a British state pension should “act immediately” to claim a winter fuel allowance worth up to €350 a year from the UK government.
It follows a landmark European Court of Justice ruling that pensioners who lived or worked in the UK, but are now permanently resident in Ireland (or other EU countries), are entitled to an annual fuel payment if they didn’t claim it while based in Britain.
The Irish Department of Social and Family Affairs estimates that 131,000 people resident in the Republic get some level of state pension from the British Government. Among them are UK expats who have moved here, but a large number are Irish natives who lived or worked across the water for many years.
I raised the matter with the Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, Niamh O’Donoghue, at the meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee on Thursday (March 14). She said she would request her officials to liaise with their counterparts in the UK.
The 2012 judgement could be of considerable benefit to many people in Waterford, who are not aware of this legal provision. All EU pensioners who can prove they paid National Insurance contributions while working in Britain can make a claim for the fuel grant — up to the end of this month.
But the deadline for applications is March 31st, 2013, so people should pursue this as a matter of urgency.
Tax-free, the minimum payment is €115 per annum, and the maximum is €350. Since 2002 the UK Department for Work and Pensions has paid out more than €9.5 million under the scheme to people living in Ireland who essentially transferred their allowance across the Irish Sea.
The only requirement is for a claimant to have been born on or before July 5, 1951, and to have ‘a genuine and sufficient link’ with the UK.
Unlike here, UK fuel payments are not means tested. But the Department of Social and Family Affairs has stressed that those who receive the British equivalent must declare it as part of their means test.
*For more information, see www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/how-to-claim or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A copy of the claim form can be downloaded HERE.