Free bus pass: State pension age changes could affect your eligibility

Someone’s eligibility for the “freebie” benefit is dependent on if someone has reached the state pension age, which is currently 66. While this retirement age remained the same for several years, the Government plans to hike the state pension age in the coming years. Due to this, older Britons will have to wait longer to become eligible for the free bus pass.

Under current Government proposals, the state pension age will go up from 66 to 67 in between 2026 and 2028.

Another increase to the retirement age threshold is expected sometime before 2048 at the latest.

These changes are based on the Government’s expectations regarding life expectancy in the UK.

It should be noted that these estimates are subject to changes in the wider world so the state pension age may be raised at different dates than expected.

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As well as this, people should remember access to the free bus pass varies depending on where you live in the UK.

For example, residents in Scotland and Wales are able to receive the benefit once they turn 60 as opposed to the state pension age.

Applicants for the free bus pass can check their eligibility and begin the process by logging into the Government’s website.

They are able to enter their postcode address onto the ‘Apply for an older person’s bus pass’ webpage.

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On its website, Age UK provides advice to older people who are looking for ways to save money on their bus travel.

The charity stated: “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.”

There are alternative concessions for pensioners who are looking to travel across the UK outside of the free bus pass.

However, these discounts are available through other transport options such as trains and the London Underground.

Over 60s are able to apply for the Senior Railcard which offers people discounts on train travel.

According to the railcard website, the concession could save a pensioner £98 a year on average.

Additionally, those who live in London who are of the state pension will be eligible for the Freedom Pass.

This pass offers free or discounted travel across London’s travel network, including trains, buses and trams.

Stephen Lowe, a group communications director at Just Group, outlined how important benefits such as the free bus pass are to state pensioners.

Mr Lowe explained: “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.

“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.”

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