Free bus pass: How to check when you will become eligible as state pension age rises

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A free bus pass can help older people to travel with ease, whether they are attending hospital appointments, visiting family or friends, or doing the weekly shop. However, it is important to note eligibility can differ across the UK for older individuals. In some parts of the country, the free bus pass entitlement is linked to State Pension age.

In others, though, the free bus pass can be unlocked once a person hits an earlier standardised age, so it is worth checking.

Those living in England will see their free bus pass age linked to the female state pension age – this is the case whether a resident is a man or a woman.

This appears to be a rule which dates back to before state pension age parity, where retirement age varied between men and women.

In the past, the state pension age for men was 65, while for women it was slightly earlier at 60.

However, due to changes enacted through the Pensions Act of 1995 and 2011, respectively, men and women can now expect to be able to retire at the same age. 

State pension age parity was ultimately reached in November 2018, however, this is not the end of changes people can expect.

By October 2020, the state pension age rose to 66, but is set to increase again in the future. 

This will mean residents in England may have to wait even longer to get a free bus pass, if the rule stays the same.

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However, there is one location in England where individuals can still access free travel arrangements.

In the capital, London, older people will be able to travel for free on buses, tubes, trams and other forms of public transportation once reaching the age of 60. 

However, this will only allow them to travel within London, so is somewhat limited in its scope.

Elsewhere across the UK, the free bus pass age is not tied to the state pension age.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, individuals can expect to become eligible for their free bus pass aged 60.

But with the ages differing across the UK, some will want confirmation about their free bus pass entitlement.

Indeed, as the Government website states, Britons can “check if you can get one sooner”, meaning some will not have to wait as long.

The Government has developed a tool online which enables those living in England or Wales to check their eligibility and apply.

All individuals will need to do is enter their postcode to be redirected to their local council’s website.

Here, they will find out more information concerning the free bus pass, how to apply, and when it can be received.

There is also a separate Government tool which helps Britons better understand their state pension age as changes take place across the UK.

Formally known as the state pension forecast, individuals will be able to apply online, or request the forecast to be sent to them by post.

This tool can not only check state pension age and bus pass eligibility, but also when a person will qualify for Pension Credit. 

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