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Bereavement support payments – could you claim up to £10,000?

Don't miss out on up to £10,000 worth of financial support - you've only got until 8th February 2024 to submit your claim

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 4 January 2024

6 min read

Bereavement support payments – could you claim up to £10,000?

If you lose your partner, you could be entitled to claim bereavement support payments of anywhere up to £10,000 and recent changes mean even more people are now eligible to claim.

As of February 2023, co-habiting parents below state pension age can claim if they had a child with their partner or were pregnant when they died. This is a huge change as this was previously limited to couples who were married or in a civil partnership.

Be aware, the deadline for claims is 8th February 2024, so you’ll need to act fast to get the support you are entitled to. This money could offer much needed financial support, especially during the current cost of living crisis. If you think you may be eligible, you should send in an application NOW to ensure you get what you deserve before it’s too late.

QUICK SUMMARY – Bereavement support payments – could you claim up to £10,000?

Many people in the UK are missing out on thousands of £s worth of support payments after the law for bereavement support payments changed back in February 2023.

  • You may be able to claim up to £10,000 in backdated support payments if your partner died after 8th April 2001, but there are several conditions as to when and how much you can claim.
  • You will need to submit your claim by the 8th of February 2024 for it to be valid, so you should move fast so you don’t miss out.
  • There are also other forms of support available if you have lost your partner including funeral expenses payments or child benefit that can offer financial aid.
  • A popular way to protect your family financial in the event of your death is to have a life insurance policy. Of course, you should think carefully before buying any form of insurance but these policies can potentially pay out thousands or even millions of £s so are worth at least considering.

It’s very tough to lose a loved one and particularly your partner who you may have relied on financially as well as emotionally. The government’s bereavement support payments are designed to pay out to support you if you have lost your partner.

These payments aren’t ‘means tested’ meaning that anyone can apply regardless of their financial situation. Up until last year, you could only claim if you were married or in a civil partnership, but now co-habiting parents are also eligible.

How long is bereavement support payment paid for?

Bereavement support is normally paid as one lump sum payment and then followed by up to 18 months of further payments. You will be able to claim either:

  • Up to £4,300 – If you were married or in a civil partnership and you had no children when your partner died and isn’t available if you were living together but not married.
  • Up to £9,800 – You can claim this if you and your partner had a child who was entitled to child benefit when they died or you were pregnant. This would be an initial lump sum of £3,500 followed by 18 payments of £350.

Note: These payments should have an impact on any other benefits for the first 12 months, though they may affect benefits such as Universal Credit after this point.

You will be able to claim backdated widow’s parent allowance of up to £10,000 if your partner died between 9th April 2001 – 5th April 2017. Widowed parent’s allowance has since then been replaced with bereavement support payments but you can still claim for your backdated payments.

You will be able to claim up to £9,800 in backdated bereavement support payments if your partner died between 6th April 2017 – 8th February 2023. If you were married or in a civil partnership (with or without children), you can only claim if you lost your partner within the last 21 months as you aren’t entitled to the backdated payments.

Backdated widowed parent’s allowance could equal payments of up to £139.10 maximum per week and the overall amount you receive will depend on the amount of National Insurance paid by your partner.

While you don’t need to be struggling financially to claim bereavement support or widowed parent’s allowance, there are certain rules and criteria that need to be met. You need to have been:

  • Under state pension age when your partner died (it doesn’t matter if you are older than this now as long as you weren’t before 30th August 2018)
  • Currently living in the UK (or another country which pays bereavement benefits)
  • Either married, in a civil partnership or living with and co-parenting with your partner (or you were pregnant when they died)
  • Entitled to child benefit for at least one of your children on or after 30th August 2018 or have been pregnant (you don’t need to have been actually claiming). This just means you had one child under age 16 (or 20 if in full time education)
  • Your partner must have paid a set minimum amount of National Insurance contributions in any tax year since 1975 or have died due to an accident at work or a disease caused by their occupation/workplace.

Unfortunately, backdated support isn’t available if you lost your partner and were unmarried with no children. We do think this isn’t right and hopefully support in this situation will become available in the future.

Note: It’s important to be aware that while bereavement support payments can’t be taxed, backdated widowed parent’s allowance is taxable. Any additional tax will come out of your pay automatically if you’re employed or you will need to declare this income if you are self employed.

How you apply for payments will depend on when your partner died and which backdated payments you are claiming for. If your partner died between 9th April 2001 – 5th April 2017, you would be applying for backdated widowed parent’s support allowance and can only apply via post.

You can download and complete a request form before posting or you can call the bereavement service helpline to request they post a form to you.

Tel. 0800 151 2012 (England, Scotland and Wales)

Tel. 0800 085 2463 (Northern Ireland)

Post (England, Scotland and Wales):

Dover Benefit Centre,
Post Handling Site B,
WV99 1LA

Post (Northern Ireland):

Bereavement Support Payment,
Mail Opening Unit,
PO Box 42,
BT49 4AN

If your partner died on or after 6th April 2017, you can claim backdated bereavement support payments which can be applied for online as well as postal applications which can be sent to the same address as above.

Online Bereavement Support Payment Application Form – CLICK HERE

There is no set rule as to how these payments should be spent, though they are intended to support you with household expenses that your partner would have contributed to.

You may choose to spend the money on school fees, mortgage payments or even on a nice holiday for you and your child(ren) to enjoy.

What benefits are you entitled to as a widow?

There are a few other benefits that you may be entitled to if you have lost your partner. The other main bereavement that people often aren’t aware is the funeral expenses payment which can help with burial or cremation fees and even travel costs to get to the funeral.

This payment won’t usually cover all the costs associated with a funeral though that insurance policies like funeral insurance, over 50s life insurance or standard life insurance policies will.

You can find out more about which benefits you are entitled to after the death of a partner on the website.

While financial support can be useful it’s also helpful to know about where you can turn to for emotional support. The obvious option is to lean on family and friends, but you might prefer impartial support as well which is completely understandable.

There are brilliant support services in the UK who can offer counselling and support following the loss of a loved one including:

There are also services that can help support children following the loss of their parent such as Child Bereavement UK and Winston’s Wish.

If your partner had a life insurance policy when they died, you may also have received a pay out from this which can be a lifeline in a very difficult time. You would normally need to get in touch with your partner’s life insurance provider to submit a bereavement claim.

If you aren’t sure whether your partner had a policy, you can usually check by seeing if there are any direct debits or documents that would indicate that they did. It’s worth then getting in touch with the insurance as they may be able to still pay out, even if you don’t have all of the policy information.

Does life insurance automatically go to next of kin?

If there is no Will or Trust associated with a life insurance policy then usually yes a life insurance pay out would be awarded to the closest family member of the deceased. You should be classed as your partner’s next of kin if you were married, or if not your child(ren) could be classed as your partner’s next of kin instead.

Should I buy life insurance to protect my family?

Many people in the UK choose to buy life insurance as a way of ensuring their family had financial support in the event of their death. This may feel even more important if you have already lost your partner and want to make sure your loved ones are protected.

Choosing to buy life insurance is a big decision though and not one that should be rushed into. I’d always suggest doing some research into the type of policy you are after and which providers will offer the best benefits and pricing.

If you did want more free, friendly advice about life insurance, you can speak to our trusted life insurance partners on 0800 009 6559 or click here.

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