The Anonymous Widower

Claiming Winter Fuel Payment Without a Birth Certificate.

I’m 63 and have never claimed the Winter Fuel Payment.  In 2007, when I was first eligible, I had many other things to do with C’s illness an eventual death.  I should have claimed in 2008, but I was after the cut-off date.  Last year my son was dying with pancreatic cancer, so again it was the last thing in my mind.

So this year I decided that I’d better do it. I phoned the help line number, 08459-151515, who said they’d sent me a form in 2007.  As I was claiming Widow’s Benefit at the time, I suppose I ignored it.  They said they’d send another, but it never arrived.  Or at least I never saw it.

So yesterday, whilst the weather was so cold, I decided to have a go.  At least I was in front of the cut-off day in March, so I should get it this year.

I updated the form on the Internet and printed it off.  But it needed birth certificate for proof of age! My birth certificate was unique in that it had the wrong date on it, which had been officially changed a few weeks after I was born. But I have not seen it since we last moved in 1991. I paniced a bit and ordered a copy on-line, but that won’t be here until mid-January.

So again I phoned the help line ans told I could take two of my passport, driving licence and medical card to the nearest JobCentre Plus to get them verified. I searched the JobCentre Plus website and there is no office finder as you get on any chain of shops website. After perhaps twenty minutes of searching, I found that the nearest one was at the other end of the road on which I live. Within ten minutes my passport and medical card had been copied and certified.

Everything was in the post by lunchtime.

So it was fairly easy in the end, but why can’t it be like how you purchase a Senior Railcard.  That is totally on-line and must be a much cheaper system than the one they have for the Winter Fuel Payment.

I know not everybody has a passport or a driving licence, but these people could just take everything they have got straight to the JobCentrePlus? And why is there no list of JobCentrePlus offices on the Internet?

Perhaps, the whole system is designed to employ more bureaucrats and reduce the take-up of the benefit? Or am I being too cynical?

December 22, 2010 - Posted by | Computing, World | ,


  1. You are probably being a bit cynical, it is difficult to deter fraudsters, but sadly the fraudsters get through the system and others dont. Every local council has a Welfare Rights dept and they can help people through the system free of charge. Online applications would also leave the path open for documents to be tampered with – changing date of birth, photograph, allsorts of things would be easy with photoshop if all you had to produce was an image of the document rather than the actual document

    Regarding birth certificates, if you apply online you can get one next day delivery, although it is expensive, £20.00ish I think.

    Comment by liz | December 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. If the Senior Railcard people and the on-line tax disc lot can do it, I can’t see the problem. You just check the document number against the database and ask a few check questions.

    I just applied for a new birth certificate and it was more than that.

    The registrar who registered my wife and son’s death said that the trouble with the British database is not linked back on itself. So if you claim allowances for a pensioner who’s died with a legal birth certificate, it’s difficult to pick up. The French have a linked database and they have a lot less fraud. Also the chief security officer of a credit card company told me, that there is a lot of fraud by applying for credit cards in the names of those who have died. I think though that in the last year or so that hole has rather belately been closed.

    Comment by AnonW | December 22, 2010 | Reply

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