What support can I get when my partner dies?
It's a distressing time when a partner dies, both emotionally and financially. If you're financially dependent on your partner or spouse, you may wonder how you'll be able to get by.
The government does offer some financial support to those who have lost a partner. This comes in the form of the bereavement allowance. It used to be known as the widow's pension.
This guide explains how bereavement allowance works, and whether or not you're able to claim it.
How much bereavement allowance will I get in 2020?
The widow’s pension, awarded to widows over age 45, was replaced by the bereavement allowance in 2001.
The bereavement allowance is given to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners over age 45 until they reach state pension age. It is paid for up to 52 weeks.
This benefit only applies to people whose partner's died before 6 April 2017. If they died on or after this date, they could qualify for bereavement support payment.
The amount you'll get depends on your age at the time of your partner's death, and the overall level of their National Insurance contributions, as the table below shows.
It also depends on your age when your partner dies. The younger you are, the less you’ll get. The rates in 2019/20 are as follows:
In some cases, you may get an additional pension on top of bereavement allowance based on your late spouse or civil partner's earnings.
|Age when your spouse dies||Weekly allowance|
|55 until state pension age||£119.90|
Am I eligible for bereavement allowance?
These are the criteria for claiming bereavement allowance:
- You were aged 45 or over when your partner died.
- You're under state pension age.
- Your partner paid National Insurance contributions, or died in an industrial accident or disease
- You aren't raising children.
- You haven't remarried/joined a civil partnership.
- You aren't living with another person as if you're married/in a civil partnership with them.
- You're not in prison.
How much is widowed parent's allowance in 2020/21?
If you are raising children at the time of your partner's death, you can claim widowed parent's allowance.
The amount you can claim depends on how much your partner paid in National Insurance. The maximum is £121.95 a week in 2020/21.
You can claim widowed parent's allowance until you stop receiving child benefit.
You can't claim widowed parent's allowance and bereavement allowance at the same time.
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How to claim bereavement allowance
You can download a bereavement benefits pack (form BB1) from www.gov.uk. You can also order one of these packs from your nearest Jobcentre Plus centre.
Once you’ve filled in form BB1, return it to your local Jobcentre Plus.
Claims are dated from when the office receives them and can only be backdated by up to three months, so if you delay, you might lose some benefit.
If you remarry or start living with someone, you will no longer qualify for bereavement allowance.
How much is bereavement payment in 2020/21?
If your partner paid National Insurance contributions, their death was job-related, and you were under state pension age when they died, you may be eligible for a bereavement payment.
This is a £2,000 tax-free lump sum.
You can't claim bereavement payment if you were divorced when they died, you’re living with someone else or you’re in prison.
You claim the bereavement payment in the same way as the bereavement allowance.
How much is the bereavement support payment in 2020/21?
If your partner died on or after 6 April 2017, you could qualify for a different type of benefit called the bereavement support payment.
To qualify, your partner needed to have made at least 25 weeks' worth of National Insurance contributions, or suffered a job-related death.
You also need to be UK-based, and under the state pension age.
The payment is made up of a one-off lump sum, and 18 monthly payments. There are two rates, as the table below shows.
You qualify for the higher rate if you're eligible for or claiming child benefit. You get the lower rate if you don't. You have three months after your partner's death to make a claim. You can claim up to 21 months after, but you'll get a lower payment.
|First lump sum||Monthly payment||Total payment|
Are there any other bereavement benefits?
You may be able to claim funeral expenses from the Social Fund if you're claiming certain benefits including income support, pension credit, housing benefit and council-tax benefit.
If your partner died serving in the armed forces, you may be eligible for the war widow's or war widower's pension. It is based on their pay.
For more information on this, contact the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.