Are you entitled to the Bereavement Allowance?
Losing a spouse is tough enough without the financial implications that come with arranging a funeral, paying doctors bills and potentially having to deal with a solicitor. With the average funeral in the UK costing over £4,000*, it’s easy to see how families or spouses can run into financial difficulties, especially if the death was unexpected. Even if money can be found for the funeral, the long-term effects of bereavement can take a much more damaging toll on the life quality of the people left behind.
Many partnerships and marriages in the UK involve one person potentially earning more than the other or providing all of the money required to run the household, raise children or save for the future. If the main earner were to die, then the sudden loss of income could potentially be devastating to those left behind. Even if both people earn the same and spread the costs, the sudden loss of income could also have a negative effect.
If you find yourself in this situation, then one of the bereavement benefits available from the government could potentially help.
What is the Bereavement Allowance?
To help mitigate the loss of a household earner and to go some way to supporting family members who will be worse off if someone has passed away, the government has had benefits in place for a long time that are designed to help those who need it.
Previously known as the Widow’s Pension, Bereavement Allowance is just one of the options available to those who have lost their husband, wife or civil partner and qualifies based on their personal circumstances. If the person passed away before 6 April 2017, you were 45 years or older at the time of their death and are now under the State Pension age, and the person paid National Insurance contributions, then you could be eligible to receive the Bereavement Allowance.
If the person died after this date, then you can no longer claim the Bereavement Allowance. Instead, you may be able to claim Bereavement Support Payments. This is the new version of the Bereavement Allowance and is similar in terms of the support offered. If eligible, you’ll receive a lump sum followed by monthly payments, which could go some way to supporting your family.
If you are bringing up children, but do not meet the other criteria, then you could be eligible for the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. This is available to people who aren’t within the Bereavement Allowance bracket from an age and time of death of partner perspective but do have dependent children living at home.
How much will I get?
Knowing how much you’ll receive is down to your situation and your own income. Once you have applied for the benefit that you qualify for, the government will assess your income and notify you of the payment you’re eligible to receive.
If your spouse died before the 6th of April 2017 and you were 45 or over, you could qualify for weekly payments ranging from £35.97 for 45 year olds, all the way to £119.90 for those between 55 years old and the State Pension age. The full table can be found here.
Don’t forget that you may also be eligible to receive a bereavement payment, a one-off payment designed to act as a buffer for low income spouses who have lost someone. Again, you’ll need to meet certain criteria and you’ll need to have been over 45 years old, but you could claim a lump sum of up to £2,000.
Bereavement Support Payment
If your spouse died on or after the 6th of April 2017 and you were 45 years old at the time of their death, then you may qualify for the Bereavement Support Payment. This payment is made up of a lump sum, followed by up to 18 monthly payments. You’ll be banded into a higher or lower rate if you qualify, with payments as follows:
Lower rate: first payment of £2,500, followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £100
Higher rate: first payment of £3,000, followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £350
Widowed Parent’s Allowance
Again, if your spouse died before the 6th of April 2017, you could claim this payment if you have dependent children. This payment of £119.00 per week is paid for the 52 weeks after your spouse’s death or from the date of the claim if post-dated, but you’ll need to be eligible for child benefits. This payment is a little more complicated, so as with all claims, start with the GOV.UK page to check your eligibility.
What happens if I don't meet the criteria?
If you aren’t sure if you qualify for the Bereavement Allowance or the Widowed Parent’s Allowance, then the easiest thing to do is to order a bereavement support pack from the GOV.UK website. This has plenty of information on eligibility criteria, the payments you may receive and how to apply. You can also telephone the government’s bereavement support line on 0800 731 0469, where you can ask further questions and get advice on making a claim.
If you do not qualify for a bereavement benefit it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get support after the loss of a spouse. There are a number of other options, such as charities, open to people in various situations which may be available to you.
Arranging a funeral
If you are struggling to meet the costs of a funeral, one of our low cost funeral packages could help. Our low cost funerals start from just £995 and are available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain. For help arranging a funeral for your loved one, contact us today.
*SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2018 quoted £4271 as the average cost of a basic funeral in the UK.