A Guide to Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance,
Widowed Parent's Allowance and their effect on State Retirement Pension.
How death affects benefits
As well as the emotional effects of the death of someone you cared for, there will be practical matters to deal with. You'll have to consider your own benefits, and notify the agencies that were paying benefits or tax credits for the person who has died. There are benefits to help with funeral costs.
Your own benefits
If you were receiving Carer’s Allowance when the person you cared for died, this will usually continue for eight weeks from the Sunday following their death. If you were receiving a carer premium or addition as part of your Income Support or Pension Credit this will also continue for eight weeks.
If you were 65 or over and entitled to Invalid Care Allowance (as Carer’s Allowance was previously called) on October 27 2002, you will be entitled to Carer’s Allowance indefinitely after the person you cared for has died.
You may need to claim other benefits once the eight-week period has ended. These might include one of the earnings replacement benefits (for carers), such as:
- State pension.
- Bereavement benefits.
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You might also be entitled to one or more of the top-up benefits or tax credits.
Notifying the agencies that were paying benefits
The agencies that were paying benefits or tax credits for the person you were looking after will need to be notified of that person's death. To do this you can:
- Send the death certificate (form BD8) given to you by the registrar when the death was registered, to the Department for Work and Pensions. They can deal with the pension or benefits of the deceased.
- Contact the local authority of the deceased in connection with council tax and any Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefit that was in payment.
- Contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs about any tax credits or Child Benefit.
You can claim certain benefits if you were looking after someone who has died. Bereavement benefits are not means tested, but they will be taken into account as income if you claim any means-tested benefits.
Section 36A Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
Bereavement payment (BP) replaced widow's payment from 9 April 2001. BP is a tax-free lump sum (£2,000) payable to a claimant immediately following the death of a spouse or civil partner, if two conditions are met:
- the late husband, wife or civil partner met the National Insurance contributions conditions, or his or her death was caused by the job and
- either the claimant or their deceased spouse or civil partner was not entitled to state retirement pension at the date of death, or the claimant was under state pension age when their husband, wife or civil partner died.
This is a regular taxable payment made if you were aged 45 or over when your spouse or civil partner died. It is payable for 52 weeks. The amount you're paid relates to your age when your spouse or civil partner died. It is only payable up to state pension age and will be reduced if your spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contribution record was incomplete.
Widowed Parent’s Allowance
This is a regular, taxable payment for men or women under pension age who have been bereaved and have dependent children (or, in the case of women, if they're pregnant). If your spouse or civil partner met the National Insurance contributions conditions, the full rate is payable. If not, you receive a proportion of the allowance, unless they died of an industrial injury or disease.
You cannot be paid Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance at the same time. A Bereavement Payment can be paid in addition to Widowed Parent's Allowance or Bereavement Allowance.
To claim a bereavement benefit, ask for the appropriate claim form from any Department for Work and Pensions or Jobcentre Plus office. You can find more information and download claim forms online (see External links).
After pension age
Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Allowance cannot be paid after state pension age. When you reach state pension age, and if you haven't remarried or formed a civil partnership, you'll be entitled to a pension, as long as your late spouse or civil partner satisfied the National Insurance contributions or died as a result of an industrial injury or disease.
You could qualify for a pension based on both your own National Insurance contributions record and your spouse or civil partner’s record, if that would give you a higher state pension. For further details contact the Pension Service on 0845 6060 265.
ResourcesCruse Bereavement Care Helpline
Telephone counselling for people who are bereaved and those who care for them or are working with them. Also offers support advice, publications and referrals.
Cruse House, 126 Sheen Road,
Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1UR
0870 167 1677 (9:30am - 5pm weekdays)