State pension age changes may affect bus passes and free prescriptions

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A free bus pass is an important entitlement for millions of older people in getting out and about. It can assist individuals with getting to doctor’s appointments, doing the weekly shopping and seeing family and friends.

People can get a free bus pass at the age of 60 in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.

However, in England, individuals can only get a bus pass for free travel when they reach state pension age.

State pension age is currently 66, however, this will not be the case forever.

The state pension age is already set to increase to 67, and then to 68.

It means those whose free bus pass age aligns with state pension age are likely to have to wait longer than ever before to receive the entitlement. 

This may also end up being the case when it comes to the free prescription age.

Although the matter is yet to be decided, there is currently a consultation on whether the free prescription age should align with the state pension age.

Britons can currently get free prescriptions regardless of age in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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However, in England the free prescription age currently sits at 60.

There is debate as to whether this should be raised to 66, in line with state pension age.

If the proposals were to go ahead, it would mean hundreds of thousands of people waiting potentially an extra six years to get the entitlement.

Previously commenting on the consultation, a DHSC spokesperson told “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, or have certain medical conditions.

“The upper age exemption, 60-years-old, has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link with the state pension age. 

“We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.”

Without an exemption, the prescription cost in England is currently £9.35 per item.

People are able to check their eligibility for both the free bus pass and a free prescription.

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The Government website is the best place to check bus pass eligibility.

If a person enters their postcode they can find out how to apply for a bus pass from their local council.

They can also find out if they could get a bus pass any sooner.

To find out about free prescription eligibility, Britons can visit the NHS website.

Here, they will find an eligibility checker on whether they could get assistance with NHS costs.

The health service states it should take about three minutes for individuals to check. 

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