Widow/widowers and dependants - injury pre 6 April 2005

If a member of the Armed Forces dies as a result of a condition mainly caused by Service, their surviving partner and/or children may be entitled to compensation.

If the condition was caused by Service before 6 April 2005 the award will be made under the War Pension Scheme and we cover the information here.

If the condition was caused by Service on or after 6 April 2005 see Widow/widowers and dependants – injury post 6 April 2005.

Death caused by service before 6 April 2005

You may be entitled to a War Widow's or Widower's Pension if:

  • your spouse/civil partner’s death was due to or substantially hastened by an illness or injury for which they were getting a WDP or would have been if they made a claim, or
  • they were getting Constant Attendance Allowance or would have been if they had not been in hospital, or
  • they were getting Unemployability Supplement at the time of death and their pensionable disablement was at least 80%

A pension may also be awarded to someone who was living with their deceased partner as husband and wife.

In most cases, entitlement to a pension stops if you remarry, form a civil partnership or start cohabiting. It will be reinstated if your new marriage or partnership ends.

How much is a War Widow's or Widower's Pension?

The amount that you get paid depends on

  • the rank of the person who died
  • your age, and
  • whether you have children.

If you are over 40, or under 40 with children, you will be paid at the standard rate depending on your partner’s rank.

If you are under 40 you will be paid at the lower rate according to their rank.  This will go up to the standard rate when you reach age 40.

You are not entitled to a War Widow's or Widowers Pension as well as the on-going state bereavement benefits - but the War Widow's or Widower's Pension is usually higher and is paid tax free. However, you should make a claim for state benefits and your War Pension will be adjusted to take account of any amounts you are entitled to under the state schemes. For more information about state benefits, see Pension and benefit entitlements for spouse.

War Widow(er)’s Pension can be made up of several elements depending on individual circumstances. These could include:

  • Basic War Widow(er)’s Pension
  • Supplementary pension
  • Age Allowance
  • Allowances for children
  • Dependant children
  • Rent Allowance
  • War Orphan's Pension

See page 9 of the Rates of War Pensions and allowances leaflet on the Veterans UK (formerly SPVA) website for more information.

War Widow(er)’s Pension payments made shortly after the date of death

Temporary Allowance

Widows of the most severely disabled pensioners may receive a Temporary Allowance based upon the War Disablement Pension in payment at the time of death.

Funeral expenses

If you are responsible for paying for your partner’s funeral you may be entitled to a grant towards the cost. The time limit for claiming funeral expenses is three months from the date of the funeral.

You can make a claim for funeral expenses of £2,200 towards the cost of a funeral where a war pensioner dies and:

  • death was due to or hastened by service
  • War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance was being paid or would have been paid had the war pensioner not been in hospital when they died, or
  • Unemployability Supplement was in payment at the time of death and the War Pension was being paid at the 80% rate or higher.

If you want to apply for help with the cost of a funeral, get in touch with Veterans UK as soon as you can after the funeral on 0808 1914 218 or email - veterans.help@spva.gsi.gov.uk.

If they cannot help with the cost of the funeral, you may be able to get help from the Social Fund if you are getting Income Support, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or if you are not eligible for state help you can apply to The Royal British Legion for assistance.

Benefits payable under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme

For more information on benefits payable under the Armed Forces Pension Schemes, go to Pension and benefit entitlements for spouse.

Income Tax

War Widow's and Widower's Pensions and allowances have not been taxed since 6 April 1979. When you fill in your Income Tax return, write a note clearly on the form to say that you receive a War Widow's or Widower's Pension. The Tax Inspector will then ignore your War Widow's or Widower's Pension when he or she assesses how much income tax you have to pay.

Inheritance Tax

When someone dies, Inheritance Tax must normally be paid if their estate is worth more than a certain amount.

However, if a serving or former member of the Forces dies from (or death can be shown to have been hastened by), a wound sustained, or injury/disease contracted on active Service an application may be submitted to consider whether or not the estate may be exempt from Inheritance Tax.  Contact the MOD at:

Veterans UK 
Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre
(Deceased Estates)
Room 43, Building 182
Imjin Barracks
Innsworth
Gloucester
GL3 1HW

Remember that an estate passing on death to a spouse is exempt from Inheritance Tax in any case.