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Beareavement Support Payments: what you need to know

Chris Torney / 30 March 2020

A guide to the payments and benefits you might be eligible for if your spouse or civil partner dies.

If your spouse or civil partner dies, you could be entitled to money from the state
If your spouse or civil partner dies, you could be entitled to money from the state

If your spouse or civil partner dies, you could be entitled to money from the state. Until 2017, the government offered various bereavement benefits, including a one-off Bereavement Payment, a weekly Bereavement Allowance (previously named Widow's Pension) paid for up to a year, as well as a Widowed Parent’s Allowance for those whose partners died while their children were still minors.

But for the last three years, a new system of state bereavement payments has been in force.

The Bereavement Support Payment system

The previous system of benefits – consisting of those named above – was replaced with a single Bereavement Support Payment for new claims from April 2017. Unlike the previous system, there is no longer a minimum age for eligibility (it used to be 45) and National Insurance contribution conditions are simpler.

This new system of state bereavement payments means more generous initial bereavement payments, but in many instances – in particular where young children lose a parent – the amounts subsequently paid out are be less.

For those without children, the changes mean a £2,500 lump-sum payment after their spouse dies. This is then followed by 18 monthly payments of £100 – but the surviving partner no longer needs to be 45 or older in order to claim these ongoing payments.

For those with children, the initial lump-sum is £3,500 followed by 18 monthly payments of £350. But compared with the former system, where widowed parents could potentially receive £112.55 a week until their children turn 16 (or 20 if they are in full-time education), this is far less generous.

You should be able to make a claim if the deceased either paid National Insurance contributions for 25 weeks or more, or died due to an accident or illness caused by their work.

When they died, you must have been under the state pension age, and living in the UK or in a country that pays bereavement benefits: for more information, visit Gov.UK.

Claims should be made within three months of the death – those made up to 21 months after the death should still be honoured, but payments are likely to be reduced.

If you are over state pension age

Although this benefit does not apply to people who have already reached state pension age, you could get an increased state pension after your partner dies.

This may be the case if you are not receiving a full state pension already. To find out more, contact the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898.

How to claim

To claim Bereavement Support Payment download the claim form from this government web page.

Forms are also available from your local Jobcentre Plus, and can be ordered over the phone – check the phone book for your local centre’s number.

Claims should be made within three months of the death.

Claiming from abroad

In some circumstances, you may be able to make a claim for this benefit even if you are living outside the UK. To find out more, contact the International Pension Centre on +44 191 21 87608.

Bereavement payment and other payments

State payments related to bereavement can affect your entitlement to other benefits, such as income support or carer’s allowance. And bereavement payment counts as savings when it comes to working out your entitlement to certain means-tested benefits.

For more information on how you could be affected, speak to your local Jobcentre Plus.

Bereavement benefits: frequently asked questions

How much in terms of bereavement payments am I entitled to after becoming a widow or widower?

Widows and widowers under state pension age are entitled to Bereavement Support Payments worth £2,500 or £3,500 after their husband, wife or civil partner dies. The higher rate applies to people who are claiming Child Benefit.

This can then be followed by further ongoing payments of either £100 or £350 a month (for Child Benefit claimants) for 18 months.

How do I claim bereavement support?

If you download a claim form from this government web page, you will be able to apply for Bereavement Support Payment.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.