The benefits of being 60-plus

    Help from the state

    Winter fuel payment. Your 60th birthday must fall before the third Monday in September to qualify for the upcoming winter. The payment is £200 for over-60s, spilt 50-50 if there are two people in the household who are eligible.

    Winter fuel payment is normally paid with your state pension, so if you are not in receipt of one - for example men between 60 and 65 - you may have to make a claim (call 0845 915 1515 for more information).

    Free eye test on the NHS. If you are under 60 but your partner is over 60 and receiving the guarantee element of Pension Credit, you can also have a free eye test. Exactly the same criteria apply to NHS prescriptions.

    Dental checks are free in Wales for over 60s, but in England only if you or your partner gets guarantee Pension Credit.

    At 65 you qualify for age-related personal tax allowances. For the 2012/13 tax year, for those aged 65 to 74 the personal tax allowance is £10,500 for income up to £25,400. This means you can have an income of £201.92 a week before being liable to income tax. Married couples where one was born before 6th April 1935, but is still under 75 years of age, can receive up to £7,705 married couples allowance too.

    Travel

    Free off-peak bus travel. Barely a year after the Government introduced to great fanfare the provision for over 60s to travel free on all buses and coaches in England and Wales, as opposed to just their local ones, the concession was quietly withdrawn in spring 2009. Buses or coaches with stops less than 15 miles apart were considered Ďlocalí and the operator was obliged to accept bus passes, but now passes will not be admissible on any service on which more than half the seats can be pre-booked.

    The bus pass entitles over-60s to free travel at off-peak times between 9.30 am and 11pm, Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends anywhere in England. Passengers from outside London should note that this applies only to London buses. Only residents of London boroughs can use their Freedom passes to travel free on London Underground and overground trains.

    Over 60s in Wales and Scotland can travel free on buses at any time of the day, including rush hours.

    National Express coaches offer special Coachcards for over-60s, which give discounts of up to 50 per cent. Other transport companies may also have an older personís discount, so check before you buy a ticket.

    In Scotland you need a special National Entitlement card to benefit from free transport on buses and coaches.

    Senior Citizens Railcard. This costs £28 and saves you a third on standard and first class fares (apply at your local station or at http://www.senior-railcard.co.uk/)

    Miscellaneous benefits

    At 60, or sometimes 65, you may qualify for all manner of discounts, from sporting events to cinema and theatre tickets; from membership of organisations such as English Heritage to a haircut at your local barber or hairdressers; and from health and fitness club membership to entry into exhibitions and tourist attractions, both in the UK and abroad.

    Some random examples: annual membership of English Heritage, which gives you free entry to their properties nationwide, would set you back £47 if you were under 60, but is only £35 for over-60s; Cineworld cinemas typically offer a discount of over £2.50 per ticket to senior citizens.

    There are websites that have information on discounts for older people, for example www.oscaruk.co.uk and www.seniorsdiscounts.co.uk but they are very far from being comprehensive, simply because there are far too many on offer to list all of them.

    The best advice is to always carry proof of your age with you wherever you go and, if a senior citizensí discount isnít advertised, always ask if one is available. The worst that can happen is that you are told Ďnoí but youíve lost nothing by trying.