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 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
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.
If you and your spouse were eligible to claim marriage allowance at any time from April 2015, but didn’t claim before the death of your partner, you can now claim up to four years’ worth of backdated missed payments.
Bereavement Support Payment
Bereavement Support Payment replaces Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Payment.
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 National Insurance Contributions for at least 25 weeks during their working life for you to qualify. If your husband, wife or civil partner died because of an industrial injury, their national insurance contributions might not matter.
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:
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.
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: 0800 731 0469
Welsh language: 0800 731 0453
Textphone: 0800 731 0464
Welsh language: 0800 731 0456
Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm
Find out about call charges
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, after the death of your partner you can try applying for Universal Credit if you are now living on a low income.
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 Universal Credit 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.
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.
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 £1,000 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 are getting Bereavement Support Payment it will not affect your other benefits for a year. After then, the income you get from it will be taken into account for means-tested benefits including:
- Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Incapacity Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
The lump sum you get as part of Bereavement Support Payment might count as savings when your entitlement to some means-tested benefits is worked out.
This will only be if you have any of the lump sum left over after 12 months that takes you over the savings limit of £6,000 for means-tested benefits.
This means you you might see a reduction in any of these benefits you might be getting:
- 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 0800 731 0469 (call charges apply).
for the Welsh language helpline, call 0800 731 0453 (call charges apply).
if you live in Northern Ireland, call 0800 085 2463 (free to call).
There are a number of benefit calculators which can help you work out what you’re entitled to.
For a more detailed breakdown of what you might get, use the Turn2us benefit calculator, or the Entitled to benefit calculator.
If you want to find out how much Universal Credit you could get, use the Policy in Practice Benefit and Budgeting calculatoropens in new window.
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