Claiming bereavement allowance and other benefits

The death of a spouse or partner is a very difficult experience. This change in your life can be even harder if you now have to live on a lower income. The help you can claim depends on your relationship with the person who died and depends whether you were married or in a civil partnership or living with your partner. This page tells you more about bereavement benefits and other help you might qualify for if you’re now living on a low income.

Bereavement benefits if you were married or in a civil partnership

You can contact Turn2Us or Citizens Advice for help checking which benefits you can claim.

Bereavement benefits are for people whose husband, wife or civil partner has died. Which benefits and how much you qualify for will depend on:

  • Your age
  • Whether you have dependent children
  • Whether the person who died paid enough National Insurance Contributions during their working lives.

Changes to bereavement benefits from April 2017

From 6 April 2017, these bereavement benefits have been replaced by Bereavement Support Payment:

  • Bereavement Payment
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

However, Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance can be backdated for up to three months.

So if your spouse or civil partner died on or before 5 April 2017, you might still be able to claim them if you qualify and apply within three months of the date of their death.

If you’re currently getting Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance, you will continue to receive them for the time being.

What is Bereavement Support Payment?

If your spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April 2017, you might be eligible to get Bereavement Support Payment to help you cope financially.

The benefit is paid to you at one of two rates depending on whether you are responsible for children.

You must be below State Pension Age to claim Bereavement Support Payment.

Your spouse or civil partner must have made enough National Insurance Contributions during their working life for you to qualify.

Bereavement Support Payment is only paid for 18 months after the date when your spouse or civil partner died so it’s important you claim as soon as possible to avoid losing money.

How much is Bereavement Support Payment?

Bereavement Support Payment is paid at either a higher rate or standard rate:

Higher rate

Paid to pregnant women or if you’re entitled to Child Benefit. You’ll get:

  • A monthly payment of £350 for 18 months following the death.
  • A one-off payment of £3,500 during the first month.

Standard rate

For everyone else. You’ll get:

  • A monthly payment of £100 for 18 months.
  • A one-off payment of £2,500 during the first month.

You might also be eligible to claim other low income benefits to top up your income, like tax credits, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit.

How do I claim Bereavement Support Payment?

You can claim from the date when the person dies.

Claims can be backdated up to three months only.

So make sure you make your claim within three months of your spouse or civil partner’s death or you might lose some of your payments.

Call the Bereavement Service helpline or pick up a form at your local JobCentre Plus.

Bereavement Service helpline

Telephone: 0345 606 0265
Welsh language: 0345 606 0275

Textphone: 0345 606 0285
Welsh language: 0345 606 0295

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Bereavement Payment

What is Bereavement Payment?

Bereavement Payment was a government benefit paid a tax-free lump-sum of £2,000 if your husband, wife or civil partner died and had paid enough National Insurance contributions for you to be able to claim.

You will no longer be able to claim Bereavement Payment if your spouse or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017. You will have to claim Bereavement Support Payment instead.

However, Bereavement Payment can be backdated for up to three months from the date of your spouse or civil partner’s death.

So you will still be able to make a claim for Bereavement Payment if your spouse or civil partner died on or before 5 April 2017 and you make the claim within three months of their death.

Bereavement Allowance

What is Bereavement Allowance?

Bereavement Allowance (previously known as Widow’s Pension) is a benefit paid to the surviving spouse or civil partner if you’re aged at least 45 but not yet at State Pension age.

You can no longer make a claim for Bereavement Allowance if your spouse or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017. You have to claim Bereavement Support Payment.

However, Bereavement Allowance can be backdated for up to three months.

So you’ll still be able to make a claim for Bereavement Allowance if your spouse died on or before 5 April 2017 and you make the claim within three months of the date of their death.

If you are currently getting Bereavement Allowance you will continue to get it for up to 52 weeks from the date of your spouse or civil partner’s death.

How much is Bereavement Allowance?

The amount you could receive varies from £34.11 per week to £113.70 per week, depending on the level of National Insurance contributions made by your husband, wife or civil partner and your age at the time of their death. This allowance is subject to tax.

For more information and an application form, visit the GOV.UK website.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

What is Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

Widowed Parent’s Allowance was a benefit for people who had at least one child dependent on them and who were below the State Pension age when their spouse or civil partner died.

You could also claim if your husband or civil partner died while you were pregnant.

You can no longer claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance if your spouse or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.

However Widowed Parent’s Allowance can be backdated for up to three months

So if your spouse or civil partner died on or before 5 April 2017, make sure you make a claim within three months from the date of your spouse or civil partner’s death.

If you are already getting Widowed Parent’s Allowance you will continue to receive it for the time being.

If you get re-married or move in with a new partner, you’re no longer eligible to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance and must let DWP know about your change of circumstances or you could end up being overpaid in benefit.

How much is Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

You can get up to £113.70 a week. The allowance is subject to tax.

To find out if you qualify and a claim form, visit the GOV.UK website.

Bereavement benefits if you were living together

You can’t claim bereavement benefits if you were living together but weren’t married or in a civil partnership.

But you can try applying for other benefits, such as:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal credit, or
  • Working Tax Credit

After the death of your partner.

How to claim benefits if you’re on a low income

If you’re facing a drop in income after your partner dies, you might be able to claim a range of benefits to top up your income and help with things like housing costs or bringing up children.

Some benefits are means-tested. This means any savings or income you have will affect whether you are entitled to benefit payments.

This includes an inheritance taking your savings over the £16,000 threshold.

Try to report the death as soon as you can. This will help you get the benefits you’re entitled to as quickly as possible.

To do this, you’ll need to let the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) know the person has died.

Tell Us Once

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you can contact the Tell Us Once service to cancel the deceased’s benefits and entitlements.

The Tell Us Once service can also inform the DVLA, HMRC, Passport Office and local council for you and check if you’re eligible for help with funeral costs or other benefits.

  • Contact the Tell Us Once service
  • You can call The Bereavement Service helpline on 0345 606 0265, or 0345 606 0275 for a Welsh speaking service.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Bereavement Service on 0800 085 2463.

You can get more advice and help for living with a lower income in Living on a budget

Remember, you must report any change of circumstances as soon as you can. This will help you get the benefits you’re entitled to.

To find you which benefits you could claim and how to make a claim, use one of the benefit calculators in the links below.

You can also get more advice and help for living with a lower income in Living on a budget.

Funeral Payment

What is Funeral Payment?

If you’re on a low income and struggling to pay for a funeral for your partner, you can apply for a Funeral Payment.

If the person who died left money, you will usually need to pay back any amount you received through the Funeral Payments scheme.

How much you will get

The amount you get depends on your circumstances, but could be up to £700 towards funeral expenses plus payments to cover the costs of things like burial or cremation fees.

Find out more in Help paying for a funeral.

How your bereavement benefits affect other benefits

If you claim any of the following benefits, your payments might be affected if you start getting Bereavement Support Payment or are getting Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit (only if you receive Bereavement Allowance)

Bereavement Payment or the lump sum you get as part of Bereavement Support Payment counts as savings when your entitlement to some means-tested benefits is worked out.

This means if you get the one-off lump sum payment, you might see a reduction in the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

To find out more about how other benefits might be affected, contact the Bereavement Service, which is run by the Pension Service of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP):

  • If you live in England and Wales, call 0345 606 0265 (call charges apply).
  • For the Welsh language helpline, call 0345 606 0275 (call charges apply).
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, call 0800 085 2463 (free to call).

Benefits calculators

There are a number of benefit calculators which can help you work out what you’re entitled to.

For a general idea of the benefits you might be eligible for, use the Citizens Advice benefit calculator.

For a more detailed breakdown of what you might get, use the Turn2us benefit calculator, or the Entitled to benefit calculator .

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