Are you entitled to the Bereavement Allowance?
Losing a spouse is tough enough without the financial implications that come with arranging a funeral, paying medical bills and potentially having to enlist the help of 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 the entirety of household income. If the main earner were to die, then the sudden loss of income could potentially be devastating to those left behind.
If you find yourself in this situation, then the bereavement payments available from the government could potentially help. You may have many questions during this time, such as 'what is the bereavement allowance?' and 'what happens if I'm not entitled to it?'. We've answered these questions and more below.
What is Bereavement Allowance?
To help mitigate the loss of a household earner and to go some way to supporting family members left behind, the government provides benefits that are designed to help those who need it. Bereavement Allowance means you may be able to claim money from the government if a loved one has passed away, depending on your circumstances and your relationship to them.
Who can claim Bereavement Allowance?
Previously known as the Widow’s Pension, Bereavement Support 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. You may be eligible to receive the Bereavement Allowance if:
- The person passed away before 6th April 2017
- You were 45 years or older at the time of their death
- You are now under the State Pension Age
- The person paid National Insurance contributions
Bereavement Support Payment eligibility
If your loved one passed away after the 6th April 2017, 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 bereavement payments, which could go some way to supporting your family.
Widowed Parent's Allowance
If you are bringing up children, but do not meet the criteria above, then you could be eligible for the Widowed Parent's Allowance (WPA). This is available to people who aren’t within the Bereavement Allowance bracket by age or timing of their partner's death but do have dependent children living at home. This allowance also can be claimed if you're pregnant and your partner has died. Learn more about WPA.
How much Bereavement Allowance 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 bereavement 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 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.
How much is 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
How much is 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 Bereavement Allowance criteria?
If you aren’t sure if you qualify for Bereavement Support Payments, then the easiest thing to do is to order a bereavement support pack from the GOV.UK website. This has plenty of information on bereavement benefit eligibility, 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 funerals start from just £995 and are available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain. For help arranging an affordable funeral for your loved one, contact us today.
*The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is currently £4,184, SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, https://www.sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021