5-minute guide to financial support at a time of bereavement

5-minute guide to financial support at a time of bereavement
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Coping with life after the loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult, and managing financially can be a huge worry. If you have recently been bereaved, you could be entitled to benefits and other financial support:

Bereavement Allowance

  • Bereavement Allowance is a weekly benefit for widows, widowers or surviving civil partners. To qualify, you must be aged 45 or over but below pension age, and not have any dependent children
     
  • Entitlement to Bereavement Allowance also depends on the National Insurance (NI) contributions of your husband, wife or civil partner. The only exception is if their death was caused by an industrial injury or an industrial disease, when it does not matter if enough NI contributions had been paid.  It does not matter if you have not paid NI contributions yourself
     
  • The amounts you could receive depend on how old you are when your husband, wife or civil partner dies. It can be paid for up to 52 weeks from their death but if you reach state pension age before the end of the 52 weeks, you will no longer qualify
     
  • You will not be eligible if you are divorced, your civil partnership is dissolved, or if you were living with someone else when your husband, wife or civil partner died. You must report changes in your circumstances.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance is a weekly benefit for widows, widowers, or surviving civil partners who have a dependent child under the age of 19 (or 20 if you are still getting Child Benefit for them) or are pregnant
     
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance is made up of a basic allowance which depends on the National Insurance contributions of your husband, wife or civil partner. The only exception is if their death was caused by an industrial injury or an industrial disease, when it does not matter if enough NI contributions had been paid. It does not matter if you have not paid NI contributions yourself. In some cases, an additional payment is made based on your late husband, wife or civil partner’s earnings
     
  • The benefit is paid until you stop receiving Child Benefit, and it will also end if you get married, register a civil partnership or start living with someone as a couple
     
  • You will not qualify for Widowed Parent’s Allowance if you are divorced, your civil partnership is dissolved, or if you were living with someone else when your husband, wife or civil partner died.

Bereavement Payment

  • Bereavement Payment is a one-off payment of £2,000 for widows, widowers or surviving civil partners
     
  • You can receive it if you are below state pension age when your partner dies but may still receive it if you are over state pension age, as long as your husband, wife or civil partner was not getting category A State Retirement Pension when they died
     
  • Bereavement Payments depend on National Insurance contributions of your husband, wife or civil partner. The only exception is if their death was caused by an industrial injury or an industrial disease, when it does not matter if enough NI contributions had been paid. It does not matter if you have not paid NI contributions yourself
     
  • You will not qualify if you are divorced, your civil partnership is dissolved, or if you were living with someone else when your husband, wife or civil partner died.

Funeral Payments

  • If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with funeral costs in the form of a Funeral Payment
     
  • You will qualify if you or your partner receives any of the following benefits: Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. Some people who receive Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit may also qualify
     
  • To receive a Funeral Payment, the benefits office has to agree that it is reasonable for you to be responsible for the funeral expenses and that there is no one else who should be paying for it
     
  • There is no fixed sum for the payment, it covers necessary burial or cremation fees and up to £700 for other costs such as funeral director’s fees, coffin and flowers
     
  • If the person who died had a pre-paid funeral plan, you will only get help for items not already covered by the plan
     
  • The payment does not usually have to be repaid, however, if the person who died left money to you in their estate, this might have to be used to pay back the payment.

Other considerations

  • You should claim Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parents Allowance within three months of the date of your spouse or civil partner's death to avoid losing any money. For a Bereavement Payment you must make a claim within 12 months
     
  • Payment of bereavement benefits (excluding funeral payments) can be backdated usually for a limited period provided qualifying conditions over the period are satisfied. If you are in a position where you need to claim late you should seek advice from an experienced adviser. You can find one local to you by using the
     
  • For Widowed Parents Allowance or Bereavement Allowance advice should also be sought if you were cohabiting with someone else and the cohabitation has now come to an end.

Checking entitlements

There is further information about all of these benefits and how to make a claim here.
If you are on a low income following a bereavement, it is worth checking that you are claiming everything you are entitled to – try the free Turn2us Benefits Calculator to see what you might be eligible for and the amounts you may receive.

Thanks to Linda Gyamfi, Welfare Benefits Specialist at the charity Turn2us for sharing this information.