If you aren’t sure how you will cope financially after a partner dies, you may find some reassurance in bereavement support – the new name for a widow’s (or widower’s) pension.
As long as you pass the eligibility criteria, you will receive benefits from the government for 18 months to help you manage in the time following their death.
What is a widow’s pension?
The widow’s pension isn’t around anymore, but there’s now a similar scheme called the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) in its place.
If your civil partner, husband or wife has died, you may be eligible to apply to the benefits scheme to receive a lump sum followed by regular payments for up to 18 months.
This money can be used to help you manage your bills and cover other vital spending during what is a distressing time.
It can also tide you over while you wait to receive their pension pot, if you’re entitled to this.
Who can get Bereavement Support Payment?
You will need to have been married to, or in a civil partnership with, the deceased to be eligible for Bereavement Support Payment.
Payments are linked to National Insurance contributions, and you can only claim if you haven’t reached State Pension age yet.
Your partner will have had to have made National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year for you to be able to claim.
But if they died due to an accident or illness at work, you may still be eligible even if they didn’t make contributions.
How much is the Bereavement Support Payment?
Bereavement Support Payments aren’t means tested.
Instead there are two flat rates, which include an initial lump sum followed by 18 monthly payments:
You’re eligible for the higher rate if you have children to look after, which is determined by whether or not you’re entitled to the Child Benefit.
You’ll also get the higher rate if you were pregnant when your partner died.
However, if your partner died before April 2017, you’ll receive money through the previous scheme: the bereavement allowance.
In this case, your payments will depend on your age. The older you are, the more money you would receive.
To give you an idea, if you’re over 55 but under the State Pension age, you would get £121.95 a month. If you’re 45, you would receive £36 a month.
Are Bereavement Support Payments taxed?
Bereavement Support Payments aren’t taxable. They’re also not included in the benefit cap, which means you don’t need to count them when working out whether you’ll get other means-tested benefits.
How do I claim Bereavement Support Payments?
You should apply for Bereavement Support Payment within three months after your civil partner, husband or wife died to get the full amount.
You can apply up to 21 months after they died, however you will get fewer monthly payments.
It’s easy to claim for the payments. You can apply over the phone by calling the Bereavement Service helpline or by filling out a form, which you can download or get through the post from your local Jobcentre Plus.
How long does it take to get your bereavement support?
If you’re eligible for these payments, the Department for Work and Pensions aims to get your first payment to you as soon as possible.
Your payments will then continue on a monthly basis.
What happens to your bereavement support if you die?
If you die while receiving Bereavement Support Payment, the payments will stop.
It may be possible to transfer payments to your next of kin, so it is a good idea to speak to a financial adviser or your usual contact to find out if this is possible and how to do it.