Am I Entitled to Benefits After a Death?
The period immediately following bereavement is very difficult. Finances are likely to be low on your list of priorities.
But bereavement can also cause financial difficulty. In recognition of this, there is a range of benefits to which you may be entitled if you have recently lost a spouse or civil partner.
Bereavement AllowanceBereavement Allowance is available to many people after the death of their husband, wife or civil partner. You can claim it on a weekly basis for up to 52 weeks after their death.
You may be entitled to Bereavement Allowance if you are 45 or older when your spouse or civil partner dies. You must be under the State Pension age, and your spouse must have made National Insurance Contributions.
You may not claim the Allowance if you were divorced at the time of the death, or if you are living with another person “as if you were married” or in a civil partnership.
Bereavement Allowance is paid at different rates depending on your age at the time of the death. The maximum weekly rate begins at £29.30 for those aged 45, and rises gradually to £97.65 for those aged between 55 and the State Pension age.
Funeral PaymentFuneral Payments are designed to help those on low incomes who have to arrange a funeral. You should note that, depending on circumstances, you may have to pay back part of the Payment from the estate.
In order to qualify for a Funeral Payment, you must be the partner, parent or close relative of the individual who has died. You or your partner must also be in receipt of at least one of a range of benefits. These include Income Support, income-based JSA, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit. A full list is available on the DirectGov website.
Funeral Payments can be up to £700, and are almost always paid directly to the funeral director. An application form is available from the Department for Work and Pensions.
Bereavement PaymentThe Bereavement Payment is a wide-ranging, tax-free benefit available to those whose spouse or civil partner has died. You may be entitled to the £2,000 payment if you were under the State Pension age when the individual died, or your spouse or civil partner was not entitled to Category A Retirement Benefit. The spouse or civil partner must have paid their National Insurance Contributions in order for you to qualify.
The benefit is paid directly into your bank account. You should note, though, that it may affect your entitlement to other, means-tested benefits. You can apply for the Payment by calling your local Jobcentre Plus, or downloading a form from the Department for Work and Pensions website.
Widowed Parent’s AllowanceThe Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) is available to individuals whose spouse or civil partner has died, and who are bringing up at least one child for whom they are receiving Child Benefit.
In addition, in order to qualify for the benefit you must be below the State Pension age. Your spouse or civil partner must also have made National Insurance Contributions.
WPA is available up to a maximum level of £97.65 a week, and it is paid directly into your bank account. You can claim the benefit through Jobcentre Plus – but you should remember that it may affect your entitlement to other benefits.
If you are any doubt about your entitlement to benefits, you should contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus or the Department for Work and Pensions.