People under 66 whose spouse or civil partner dies are entitled to payments worth thousands of pounds – but many do not know about them so don’t claim. Bereavement Support Payments began on 6 April 2017, replacing widow’s benefits. The bereaved person must be under state pension age – currently 66 – but the deceased can be any age. So a woman aged 55 with a husband who dies at 75 will be entitled to the benefit. But a woman aged 67 whose husband dies aged 60 won’t.
The amount of the payments depends whether the bereaved person has at least one dependent child for whom they were entitled to child benefit (see table below).
The amounts have been frozen since April 2017, but the payments are not means-tested and are tax-free. They continue even if the bereaved person remarries or forms a new civil partnership.
There are two rules. The deceased person must have paid at least 25 National Insurance contributions since 1975. And the monthly payments can only be backdated three months, so if claimed later than three months after the death, some monthly payments will be missed. The lump sum will be paid if the claim is made within 21 months of the death.
Currently the payments are not made to a bereaved person who was not married or in a civil partnership with the deceased. That rule is due to change shortly for those with dependent children, but the exact date is not yet known. When the law does change, claims will be accepted back to August 2018.
Over 40,000 people claim the payments each year, but the Government estimates more than one in six of those eligible – 8,000 people a year – do not. For more details, search gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk for “bereavement support”.
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