Widower pension rightsNew pension rights for widowers

17 October 2005

Men whose wives died before 2001 may now be entitled to 'widow's benefit' following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

But national charity Citizens Advice is urging them to act quickly as the deadline for claims is 4 November.

The court ruling affects all men who lost their wife before 9 April 2001; widowers should visit their local JobCentre Plus office to find out whether they are eligible.

Before 2001, widow's benefit or widowed mother's allowance was available only to women but the European Court of Human Rights has now decided that it was discriminatory for men to be denied these benefits.

Discrimination against men

Any man - regardless of his age - whose wife died before April 2001 may now be eligible for a settlement if they tried to claim widow's benefit or widowed mother's allowance at the time of their wife's death.

Men who haven't previously tried to claim can do so now, but will need to give written details of why they think they have a legitimate claim and why their claim is late.

Citizens Advice Social Policy Officer Vicky Pearlman said:'Citizens Advice welcomes the European Court of Human Rights ruling that it was discriminatory to deny men the same benefits as women if their spouse died.

'We now want to make sure that men whose wives died before 9 April 2001 know that they may now be able to make a claim for widow's benefit or widowed mother's allowance.'

Since the law changed in 2001 both men and women have been able to claim the Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent's allowance in the event of death of their spouse.