Free bus pass claims can currently be made in England or Wales when a person reaches their state pension age, which is currently 66. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, free bus passes can be claimed from the age of 60.
However the state pension age is due to increase to 67 in 2028 and currently, the plan is to increase it further to age 68 by 2039.
There is now speculation that as part of the Government’s response to a consultation on how to set the state pension age in future, the increase to age 68 may be brought forward to the mid-2030s, Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon explained.
The review, which was announced in December 2021, will look at whether the rules around pensionable age are appropriate, based on the latest life expectancy data and other evidence.
Life expectancy in the UK has been falling, which has led some to call for a rethink in planned state pension age increases.
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The Government said: “The review will need to carefully balance important factors, including fiscal sustainability, the economic context, the latest life expectancy data and fairness both to pensioners and taxpayers.”
Mr Aegon explained to IFA magazine that the state pensions are a very costly part of Government expenditure and deferring when they start being paid would save the Government significant money.
But these increases will be of major concern to those who simply feel unable to keep working till late into their 60s.
The higher the state pension age, the more individuals will struggle to stay in full time work and the longer they will have to wait for the freebie benefits that come with being a pensioner.
Outside the free bus pass, this includes a free TV licence for Pension Credit claimants 75 or over, Winter Fuel Payments and free prescriptions.
Analysis from Just Group State Benefits Index determined that these support schemes are worth between £2.08 and £18.03 per week each.
With the state pension age gradually increasing, over 60s are finding this support to be further and further out of their reach.
Stephen Lowe, the group communications director at Just Group 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.”
Many older people are reliant on the free bus pass to live active lives and will be inconvenienced if the eligibility criteria is changed.
Organisations, such as Age UK, have advice on their websites on how over 60s can save money if they have to wait longer for the free bus pass.
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.”
Older people are also to claim a Senior Railcard for train travel, which offers people a third off the price of tickets.
Anyone aged 60 or over can buy this concession which saves people up to £76 a year on rail fares.