Benefits for bereaved people include: Bereavement Payment which is a one-off lump sum; Widowed Parent's Allowance, for bereaved parents with children; Bereavement Allowance, for bereaved people aged 45 or over. Some people on a low income with responsibilities for arranging a funeral can obtain a Funeral Payment.
Note: this leaflet gives a summary of benefits for bereaved people and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations, nor is it a full statement of the law. If you are not sure if you qualify then seek expert advice. See the end of the leaflet for sources of advice.
Until December 2005 you could only obtain bereavement benefits if you were married to the deceased person. From December 2005 people who are in a civil partnership also qualify.
Who qualifies for a Bereavement Payment?
You can get Bereavement Payment if your late partner (husband, wife or civil partner) paid appropriate National Insurance contributions, or if his or her death was caused by their job. If you are over the state pensionable age at the time of your partner's death, your deceased partner must not have been entitled to a category A Retirement Pension.
Bereavement Payment is £2,000 tax-free (April 2014). Payment is usually made directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account. You should claim within 12 months of your partner's death.
Who qualifies for Widowed Parent's Allowance?
You can get Widowed Parent's Allowance if:
- Your late partner paid appropriate National Insurance contributions, or if his or her death was caused by their job.
- And you have one or more children for whom you receive (or could receive) Child Benefit, or you are a woman expecting your late partner's baby.
- And you were under state pension age when your partner died.
The maximum rate is £111.20 per week (April 2014). It is a taxable income. In some cases the rate may vary depending on the earnings of your late partner and/or their National Insurance contributions (unless their death was caused by their job). Payment is usually made directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account.
Widowed Parent's Allowance is paid until you stop receiving Child Benefit, or if there are certain changes in your circumstances (see below).
Who qualifies for Bereavement Allowance?
You can get Bereavement Allowance if:
- Your late partner paid appropriate National Insurance contributions, or his or her death was caused by their job.
- And you were aged 45 or over when your partner died, but below the state pension age.
- And you do not receive Widowed Parent's Allowance.
Also, if you were receiving Widowed Parent's Allowance but this is stopped within 52 weeks of your bereavement because you no longer receive Child Benefit, you can switch to Bereavement Allowance.
Bereavement Allowance is paid for 52 weeks from the time of the bereavement (but only for part of this time if you reach state pension age before the 52 weeks are complete). Payment is usually made directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account.
If you are aged 55 or over when you are widowed (but below state pension age), you will receive the full rate which is £111.20 per week (April 2014). If you are aged between 45 and 54, you will only receive part of the full rate, with a 'sliding scale' of payments, depending on your age. Bereavement Allowance is a taxable income.
What can affect entitlement to bereavement benefits?
You cannot get benefits intended for bereaved people if:
- You were divorced from your late partner.
- Or you remarry.
- Or you live with a new partner.
- Or you are in prison.
Entitlement to bereavement benefits is not affected by your savings or if you have a job.
Who qualifies for Funeral Payments?
A payment for the cost of a simple funeral may be made to someone on low income. This is usually to the surviving partner or the person who has died. It may be made to another person if there is no partner, and it is reasonable for them to accept responsibility for the funeral costs.
The rules include the following:
- The person who is to pay for the funeral, or their partner (NOT the deceased person) must be receiving: Income Support, OR income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, OR income-related Employment and Support Allowance, OR Pension Credit, OR Housing Benefit, OR Council Tax Benefit, OR Universal Credit. Some people receiving Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit may also be eligible.
- The funeral must take place in the UK. (Different rules apply for people who died outside the UK.)
- The Funeral Payment is not a loan, and some or all of it may be recovered at a later date if the deceased person leaves an estate.
Note: the Funeral Payment is not a fixed amount and there are precise rules about what expenses it can cover. So, do not commit yourself to a funeral bill you cannot afford without first checking what is allowed for.
You can claim Funeral Payment from the time of death and up to three months after the funeral.
How can I get claim forms for these benefits?
To get Bereavement Payment, Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance you need to complete a bereavement benefits claim form. To get the Funeral Payment you need to complete an SF200 claim form. You can get the forms from your local Jobcentre Plus or GOV.UK (nidirect for Northern Ireland).
Further help & information
Dr Tim Kenny
Dr Hayley Willacy