When we lose someone we love, it’s like our world turns upside down. Not only are we dealing with heartache, but suddenly, there are also a whole lot of unexpected issues to think about – and that includes money. This is exactly why knowing about bereavement support payments is so important for anyone going through this tough time. These payments can be a financial lifeline and help when you need it most after losing your loved one. What are bereavement support payments and how can you claim them? Read on to find out.
What is bereavement support payment?
Bereavement support payment is a UK government benefit designed to help you financially after the loss of a spouse or civil partner. It’s a financial cushion to help you get through the immediate aftermath and adapt to changes in your income.
In 2017, the government made some changes to how this support works. Before then, there were a few different payments like Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parent’s Allowance, and Bereavement Payment. Now, all of these have been rolled into one simpler system, the Bereavement Support Payment.
The idea behind this change was to make things less complicated and more accessible for those who are grieving. Instead of figuring out which specific benefit to apply for, now there’s just one clear path.
Who is eligible for bereavement support payments?
The bereavement support payment is not available to everyone, so let’s break down who can get this support.
First, your relationship status plays a big role. You’re eligible if you were married or in a civil partnership with the person who died. Recently, the rules have expanded to include unmarried couples as well, but only if you were living together as ‘cohabiting partners’ and had children together.
Age is another crucial factor. You need to be below the UK State Pension age at the time of your partner’s death to qualify. This is because the Bereavement Support Payment is designed to assist those who might lose out on income due to their partner’s death.
Another condition is that your late partner must have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year since 6 April 1975, or died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work.
Finally, there’s a time limit for claiming. You need to claim within 3 months of your partner’s death to get the full amount, although you can still claim up to 21 months later but might receive less money.
Types and amounts of bereavement support payments
The bereavement support payment comes in two main parts: a one-off lump sum and monthly payments. The amount you receive depends on your circumstances, specifically whether you have children and your entitlement to Child Benefit.
There are two rates for Bereavement Support Payments: a higher rate and a lower rate. If you’re eligible for Child Benefit at the time of your partner’s death, or if you were pregnant, you qualify for the higher rate. This includes a larger lump sum and higher monthly payments.
On the other hand, if you don’t have children and aren’t entitled to Child Benefit, you’ll receive a lower rate, which includes a smaller lump sum and lower monthly payments.
The higher rate starts with a one-off lump sum payment, followed by up to 18 monthly instalments.
The lower rate also involves a lump sum but with smaller monthly payments.
These amounts are not affected by your income or savings, and they’re tax-free.
How much can you claim in bereavement support payments?
As of 2024, the Bereavement Support Payment in the UK offers two rates based on eligibility criteria. If you were married or in a civil partnership, the higher rate includes a one-off payment of £3,500 and 18 monthly payments of £350, provided you meet certain conditions like receiving Child Benefit. The lower rate, for those not eligible for the higher rate, includes a one-off payment of £2,500 and 18 monthly payments of £100. If you were living together as if you were married, you can also receive the higher rate. It’s important to claim this within 3 months of your partner’s death to receive the full benefits.
How to apply for bereavement support payments
Applying for bereavement support payments is a straightforward process that can be done in three ways: online, by phone, or by post. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the application process:
1. Gather necessary documentation
Before you start the application process, it’s important to have all the necessary documents ready. These usually include:
Your National Insurance number and the National Insurance number of your deceased partner.
Your bank or building society account details.
Information about your late partner’s death, like the death certificate.
2. Choose your application method
Some areas allow you to apply online. Check the government’s Bereavement Support Payment page to see if this option is available for you.
You can call the Bereavement Service helpline. The number is available on the UK government’s Bereavement Support Payment site. They can take you through the application process and answer any questions.
If you prefer to apply by post, download and fill in the Bereavement Support Payment form from the government website. Once completed, you can mail it to the address provided on the form.
3. Complete the application
Fill in the application with all the required information. If you’re applying online or by phone, the process will guide you through each step. For postal applications, ensure all sections of the form are completed accurately.
4. Submit the application
If applying online, you’ll submit it electronically. For phone applications, the operator will confirm the completion of your application. For postal applications, send your form to the specified address.
5. Await confirmation
Once your application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation. Processing times can vary, so it might take a few weeks to hear back regarding the status of your application.
When should I claim bereavement support payment?
When it comes to claiming bereavement support payment, timing is crucial. Here’s what you need to know about the timeframes and the implications of late claims:
Claiming the lump sum: Ideally, you should claim Bereavement Support Payment within 3 months of your partner’s death to receive the full lump sum amount. This one-off payment is meant to provide immediate financial support.
Monthly payments: Alongside the lump sum, you can also receive monthly payments for up to 18 months. To maximize these payments, it’s advisable to claim as soon as possible.
Late claims: If you claim after the initial 3 months but within 21 months of your partner’s death, you can still receive payments. However, you might receive less money overall, especially in terms of monthly payments.
Beyond 21 months: Claims made after 21 months from your partner’s death are generally not accepted, meaning you could miss out on this financial support entirely.
If you’re dealing with grief, know that there are several UK organisations dedicated to providing additional support. These include Cruse Bereavement Care, The Bereavement Trust, and The Samaritans. For financial assistance, organisations like Citizens Advice and Age UK offer guidance on managing finances after a loss.
Claiming bereavement support payments while living abroad
If you’re living abroad and need to claim Bereavement Support Payments, it’s important to know that eligibility may depend on the country you’re residing in.
The UK has social security agreements with certain countries, often within the European Economic Area, that allow for these claims. When applying from overseas, the process remains largely similar to applying within the UK, but you might need to provide additional documentation such as proof of residency. The amount you’re eligible for could vary based on the cost of living in your country of residence. For specific information tailored to your situation, it’s advisable to consult the official UK government resources or seek advice from a financial expert.
Navigate tough times using Know Your Dosh
At Know Your Dosh, we help families plan, ensuring that in the event of a loss, no asset is forgotten and the family’s financial well-being is secured beyond just support payments. Our platform enables you to organize and protect all your financial information, making sure everything from savings and investments to properties and insurance policies are accounted for and easily accessible to your family members when needed.
This proactive approach means your family isn’t solely reliant on support payments in difficult times. With Know Your Dosh, you can create a comprehensive financial plan that includes not just immediate support like Bereavement Payments but also long-term financial security. We are committed to helping you ensure that every asset is considered, and your family’s financial stability is maintained, even in the face of loss. Get started by signing up here.