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What Government support is available after bereavement?

Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things you are likely to experience and you’ll need to take time to process your grief. After you have dealt with the immediate aftermath of losing someone, you may wish to look into the support the government can provide.

There is some financial support that the government can offer you when you experience a bereavement - money which could help to pay for a funeral or support your family.

Bereavement Allowance (previously Widow's Pension)

You may be able to claim this allowance if you lose your spouse or civil partner between the age of 45 and the state pension age. You are able to claim this for up to 52 weeks from the date of the bereavement and the sum you are entitled to depends on the national insurance contributions made by your partner or spouse. The rate ranges from £33.77 a week to £112.55, depending on your age.

You will not be entitled to the Bereavement Allowance if:

  • You are bringing up children, as you will be entitled to an alternative form of support.
  • You remarry or enter into a new civil partnership
  • You live with a person that you are in a relationship with
  • You divorced or split from your partner/spouse before they died
  • You were over the state pension age at the time of the bereavement
  • You are in prison

Bereavement Payment

If your partner or spouse passes, you may be entitled to a £2,000 Bereavement Payment, which is a tax-free lump sum. You will be eligible for this if you are under the state pension age or older than this and your partner or spouse wasn’t entitled to claim a state pension due to their National Insurance contributions. In addition, the deceased must have paid the correct amount of National Insurance and must have died due to disease or an industrial accident.

You will not be entitled to the Bereavement Payment if:

  • You were divorced from your spouse or split from your partner
  • You are living with a person you are in a relationship with
  • You are in prison

Child Benefit

In the tragic event that you lose a child, the government will provide you with a payment for eight weeks after the bereavement. Government guidelines indicate that you have to inform them if a child passes if you are claiming a benefit for them as soon as possible.

To claim, you need to visit the government’s website and fill out a form, including the date of death, your National Insurance information and the child’s birth and/or adoption certificate.

Funeral Payments

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to help towards paying for a funeral following a bereavement.

The sum - which will depend on your circumstances and if you qualify - can pay for:

  • Burial fees
  • Exclusive rights to a burial plot
  • Cremation fees
  • Up to £700 towards funeral expenses, including funeral director’s fees, flowers and a coffin
  • Travel to and from the funeral
  • Costs for moving the body in the UK within 50 miles

In an instance where there is a prepaid funeral plan in place, the government will only provide financial assistance to cover things not included in the policy. The money can only be claimed if you are responsible for organising the funeral, claim within three months of the service, are receiving certain benefits and meet the rules regarding your relationship with the deceased.

To be entitled to claim, you must be one of the following:

  • Partner or spouse of the deceased at the time they died
  • A close relative or friend
  • The parent of a stillborn baby, born after 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • The parent of a deceased child aged 16 or under or under 20 and not in full-time education

In addition, you or your partner/spouse must receive one of the following benefits to be eligible:

  • Income support
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Disability element of the working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Universal credit

Guardian's Allowance

In the event that you have been made the guardian of a child whose parents (one or both) have died then you may be entitled to the Guardian’s Allowance of £16.55 per week. This is a tax-free payment that is added to your existing child benefit payments.

To qualify for this support, all of the following must apply:

  • You’re raising another person’s child
  • The child’s parents are dead (there are conditions if there is a surviving parent)
  • You qualify for the child benefit
  • At least one of the parents was born within the UK or lived here since the age of 16

If there is one surviving parent, you will still be entitled to the Guardian’s allowance if one of the following conditions is met:

  • You have no idea where the parent is
  • The parents were divorced or separated and the one that remains didn’t have custody
  • The parents were not married and the identity of the father is unknown
  • The parent that remains will be in prison for at least two years from the date of the bereavement
  • There is a court order keeping the surviving parent in hospital

Widowed Parent's Allowance

If you are under the state pension age and have one dependent child, you may be eligible for the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. You could also claim if you’re pregnant and your partner or spouse has passed away.

The amount you’re entitled to depends on how much the deceased paid in National Insurance contributions, with the maximum payment being £112.55 per week. If the death was due to an industrial accident, then you may be able to claim this allowance even if the deceased didn’t make any National Insurance contributions.

You are likely to be eligible for this payment if:

  • You are under the state pension age
  • You’re entitled to a child benefit for a biological child of the deceased
  • Your late partner or spouse was killed in an industrial accident or made National Insurance contributions

If one of the following applies, you will not be able to claim the Widowed Parent’s Allowance:

  • You were divorced or separated at the time of their death
  • You have remarried or are living with a new partner
  • You were over the state pension age at the time of their death
  • You are in prison

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