State pension change may mean over 60s wait longer for free bus pass

As it stands, the state pension age in the UK is 66 years of age but this is set to rise in the coming years. However, pending changes mean that over 60s will have a longer time to wait for their free bus pass.

In England and Wales, people usually get this benefit when they reach retirement, however in Scotland and Northern Ireland, free bus passes can be claimed from the age of 60.

Under current Government plans, the state pension age will be increased from 66 to 67 in between 2026 and 2028.

On top of this, another rise to the retirement age threshold is expected sometime before 2046 at the latest.

Changes to the state pension are based on the life expectancy expectations among the UK population.

Life expectancy in the UK has been falling, which has led some to call for a rethink in planned state pension age increases.

The higher the state pension age, it is argued, the more individuals will struggle to stay in full-time work. They will also have to wait longer for the ‘freebie’ benefits that come with being a pensioner.

People can find out the earliest age they can claim the state pension using a tool on the Government website.

The useful tool can help a person find out several things to help them plan such as:

  • When they will reach state pension age
  • Their Pension Credit qualifying age
  • When they will be eligible for free bus travel.

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A person will need to input their date of birth and the tool will then confirm when they will reach retirement age.

Pensioners are entitled to various other freebie benefits and concessions to help them get by financially.

Here is a full list of the qualifying groups for the free bus pass or discounted travel in England outside of pensioners:

  • Those who cannot walk long distances due to a disability, injury or illness
  • People who are diagnosed as blind, partially sighted, deaf or unable to speak
  • Individuals who do not have arms or are unable to use their arms
  • Those who have been diagnosed with a learning disability which is severe
  • Claimants of Universal Credit could get half-off their travel costs while job hunting
  • Anyone who has been refused a driving licence due to ill health.

For those who are concerned about the long wait for the free bus pass, other concessions are available.

Age UK outlined guidance on its website for those wanting discounts on bus travel across the country.

The charity explained: “It can also be worth contacting individual transport operators to see if they offer discounts.

“For example, National Express offers Coachcards to older or disabled customers, which cost £12.50 and save you a third on your travel across the year.”

Older residents in London could get a Freedom Pass which qualifies them for free bus travel.

This means that any changes to the state pension age will not affect their claim to the freebie benefit.

As well as this, those under 22, who are residents in Scotland can claim free bus travel as of January last year.

To claim this support, young people living in the country must apply for a new National Entitlement Card (NEC).

For more information, people can visit the Government website.

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