Big changes to free bus pass eligibility for state pension claimants – are you affected?

State pension: Expert on difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’

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Currently, eligibility for a free bus pass is aligned with the state pension age, which stands at 66 years old.

Across the UK, different rules apply regarding discounted bus travel depending on if you live in England, Scotland or Wales.

In comparison to England, those in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales are able to apply for the free bus pass from the age of 60.

Due to free bus pass access being aligned with the state pension age in England, claimants may see the threshold for getting their travel discount raised even further.

Under the Government’s current trajectory, the new state pension will rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

Another rise in the state pension to 68 years old is expected by 2048, however this is subject to potential shifts in Government policy and predictions regarding life expectancy.

Anyone looking to apply for this discount bus scheme can do so via the Government website if they are state pension claimants.

Recipients of the state pension will be able to enter their postcode address which will list out the contact details of their local council.

Local councils are able to use their bus pass claiming procedures to deliver free bus passes to qualifying state pension claimants.

It should be noted that local council procedures for free bus passes may differ if a claimant decides to contact their local authority instead.

Stephen Lowe, the Group Communications Director at Just Group, explained extra benefits provided alongside the state pension are crucial to the wellbeing of pensioners across the UK.

Mr Lowe said: “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.”

It should be noted that anyone who has been impacted by the state pension age change and is unable to get a free bus pass may be able to receive other discount offers on their travel expenses.

In response to various queries regarding who is eligible for a free bus pass, the Government has launched an online tool on its website to help people.

Anyone interested in applying for a discount will be able to enter their postcode into the checker tool to find out:

  • How to apply for a bus pass from their local council
  • How to check if a person can get a bus pass sooner
  • Entering one’s postcode means individuals will be redirected to the website of their local authority where they can find out about the rules for their area.

If someone does not know their postcode, they are also able to enter their address with Royal Mail’s postcode finder online.

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