Bereavement and other benefits

If you’ve lost a spouse or civil partner you could be entitled to non-means-tested financial help, known as bereavement benefits. There are also other benefits which can help you get by financially if you are on a low income.

If your spouse or partner died in Service see Death of Service person for details of the military help that is available.

Bereavement benefits if you were married or in a civil partnership

Bereavement benefits are for people whose husband, wife or civil partner has died. Which benefits and how much you qualify for will depend on:

  • Your age
  • Whether you have dependent children
  • Whether the person who died paid enough National Insurance during their working lives.

Changes to bereavement benefits from April 2017

From 6 April 2017, these bereavement benefits have been replaced by Bereavement Support Payment:

  • Bereavement Payment
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance

However, Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance can be backdated for up to three months.

So if your spouse or civil partner died on or before 5 April 2017, you might still be able to claim them if you qualify and apply within three months of the date of their death.

If you’re currently getting Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance, you will continue to receive them for the time being.

What is Bereavement Support Payment?

If your spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April 2017, you might be eligible to get Bereavement Support Payment to help you cope financially.

The benefit is paid to you at one of two rates depending on whether you are responsible for children.

You must be below State Pension Age to claim Bereavement Support Payment.

Your spouse or civil partner must have made enough National Insurance Contributions during their working life for you to qualify.

Bereavement Support Payment is only paid for 18 months after the date when your spouse or civil partner died so it’s important you claim as soon as possible to avoid losing money.

How much is Bereavement Support Payment?

Bereavement Support Payment is paid at either a higher rate or standard rate:

Higher rate

Paid to pregnant women or if you’re entitled to Child Benefit. You’ll get:

  • A monthly payment of £350 for 18 months following the death.
  • A one-off payment of £3,500 during the first month.

Standard rate

For everyone else. You’ll get:

  • A monthly payment of £100 for 18 months.
  • A one-off payment of £2,500 during the first month.

You might also be eligible to claim other low income benefits to top up your income, like tax credits, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit.

How do I claim Bereavement Support Payment?

You can claim from the date when the person dies.

Claims can be backdated up to three months only.

So make sure you make your claim within three months of your spouse or civil partner’s death or you might lose some of your payments.

Call the Bereavement Service helpline or pick up a form at your local JobCentre Plus.

Bereavement Service helpline
Telephone: 0345 606 0265
Welsh language: 0345 606 0275

Textphone: 0345 606 0285
Welsh language: 0345 606 0295

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

For eligibility criteria and an application form, visit the Gov.uk website.

Bereavement benefits if you were living together 

You can't claim bereavement benefits if you were living together but weren't married or in a civil partnership.

WAR WIDOW(ER)S

If you are entitled to a War Widow(er)’s Pension, the amount you receive will be adjusted to take into account your state entitlements. See Pension and benefit entitlements for spouse.

But you can try applying for other benefits, such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, or Working Tax Credit after the death of your partner. See the table below for a list of available benefits.

How to claim benefits if you're on a low income

If you're facing a drop in income after your partner dies, you may be able to claim some a range of benefits to top up your income and help with things like housing costs or bringing up children.y fitness tip

Some benefits for people on low income are ‘means-tested’. This means any savings or income you have will affect whether you are entitled to benefit payments.

This includes an inheritance that could take your savings over the £16,000 threshold.

Try to report the death as soon as you can. This will help you get the benefits you're entitled to as quickly as possible.

To do this, you’ll need to let the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) know that the person has died.

Tell Us Once
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can contact the Tell Us Once service to cancel the deceased’s benefits and entitlements.

The Tell Us Once service can also inform the DVLA, HMRC, Passport Office and local council for you and check if you are eligible for help with funeral costs or other benefits.

  • Contact the Tell Us Once service 
  • You can call The Bereavement Service helpline on 0345 606 0265, or 0345 606 0275 for Welsh speaking service
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Bereavement Service on 0800 085 2463.

Remember, you must report any change of circumstances as soon as you can. This will help you get the benefits you’re entitled to.

To find you which benefits you could claim and how to make a claim, use one of the benefit calculators in the links below.

You can also get more advice and help for living with a lower income in Living on a budget.

Funeral Payment

What is Funeral Payment?

If you’re on a low income and struggling to pay for a funeral for your partner, you can apply for a Funeral Payment.

If the person who died left money, you will usually need to pay back any amount you received through the Funeral Payments scheme.

How much you will get

The amount you get depends on your circumstances, but could be up to £700 towards funeral expenses plus payments to cover the costs of things like burial or cremation fees.

How your bereavement benefits affect other benefits

If you claim any of the following benefits, your payments may be affected if you start receiving Bereavement Support Payment or are getting Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

  • Income Support
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit (only if you receive Bereavement Allowance)

Bereavement Payment or the lump sum you get as part of Bereavement Support Payment counts as savings when your entitlement to some means-tested benefits is worked out.

This means if you get the one-off lump sum payment, you might see a reduction in the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

To find out more about how other benefits might be affected, contact the Bereavement Service, which is run by the Pension Service of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP):

  • If you live in England and Wales, call 0345 606 0265 (call charges apply).
  • For the Welsh language helpline, call 0345 606 0275 (call charges apply).
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, call 0800 085 2463 (free to call).

Benefits calculators

There are a number of benefit calculators which can help you work out what you're entitled to.

For a general  idea of the benefits you may be eligible for, use the Citizens Advice benefit calculator.

For a more detailed breakdown of what you might get, use the Turn2us benefit calculator or the Entitledto benefit calculator

Alternatively, visit your local Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office. You can also talk to someone at The Royal British Legion for help on 0808 802 8080 or find the Legion near you.

Last reviewed: 04/07/2017

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service

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