• In a move that will be welcomed by many, new draft plans laid out recently by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) mean that financial bereavement support will be extended to more than 22,000 families.

    The plans are expected to be approved by parliament, and once implemented, the changes will apply retrospectively from 30 August 2018. This means that a back-dated lump-sum payment will be available for those eligible to receive it.

    Currently, a surviving parent can only claim this benefit if they were married or in a civil partnership when their spouse or partner sadly died. However, under the new proposed scheme, entitlement to Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment  will be extended to those surviving cohabiting partners who have children, and who were living with their partner at the time they passed away.

    DWP Minister, Baroness Stedman-Scott said: “The death of a loved one is devastating, and can also come with significant financial implications. This change will mean more families can access support during the most difficult of times, and I hope to make that possible as swiftly as I can.”

    Read more on the changes at GOV.UK.

    How to claim

    Government guidance states that if you are eligible for Bereavement Support Payment, it must be claimed within three months of your husband, wife or civil partner’s death in order to get the full amount.

    A claim can still be made up to 21 months following their death, but you will receive fewer monthly payments in this instance.

    In terms of eligibility, you may be eligible if your partner paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one year since April 1975, or if they died because of an accident at work or a disease contracted while at work. You must also be under State Pension age at the time of your partner’s death.

    Bereavement Support Payments are paid at higher or lower rates. If you receive Child Benefit, you will receive the higher rate. This is a first payment of £3,500 followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £350. At  the lower rate, the first payment is £2,5000, followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £100.

    Bereavement Support Payments do not affect any other benefits you may receive for a year after the first payment is received.

    We advise that if you receive Bereavement Support Payments, you must advise your benefits office once you start receiving them.

     

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