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widows state pension

A Guide to Widow’s Pensions and the Bereavement Allowance

It can be a very distressing time when a partner dies, with emotional and financial consequences. 

If your loved one has passed away, you may be eligible to receive a weekly payment known, which was known as the Widow’s pension but is now the bereavement allowance. Several factors can determine how much, and for how long you may receive this payment. 

As a result, this guide will aim to provide a comprehensive explanation of any confusing matters. 

This article will seek to answer the following asked questions; 

  • What is the widow’s pension? 
  • What is the bereavement allowance? 
  • When do you receive the widow’s pension? 
  • What is the widow’s pension for over 65’s? 
  • What is the widow’s pension for over 70’s? 
  • How much is a widow’s pension? 
  • How long do you get a widow’s pension for?
  • How much state pension does a widow get? 
  • Are widows entitled to the husband’s state pension? 

What is the widow’s pension?

The Widow’s Pension – which is now known as the bereavement allowance – is a type of payment made to the widow of a spouse or civil partner who has passed away. These payments are a form of benefit provided by the government to prevent added financial pressure following the loss of a loved one. 

The Widow’s benefit Pension was replaced in 2001, making way for several different forms of bereavement benefit. 

These include the bereavement allowance, bereavement payments, and bereavement support payments. There is also the widowed parent’s allowance, which is more aimed at and designed for those who still have children that depend on their parents.

What is the bereavement allowance and how can I claim for it? 

As mentioned, the bereavement allowance is the new term for a Widow’s Pension. If your spouse or civil partner has recently passed away then you may be able to claim for bereavement support payments.

 The bereavement support payment is available to anyone regardless of income level and employment status. These benefits are not dependent on any circumstance other than the fact you have become recently widowed and need financial aid. 

Under the older system, you could claim either the bereavement allowance, the widowed parent’s allowance of a bereavement payment. Yet, under the newer rules, these have now been combined to form the bereavement support payment.  These are in addition to any employer pension or pension annuity that may have been payable to the deceased.

So, how do you know if you are eligible to claim the bereavement support payment? You can apply for the bereavement support payment if the bereavement happened on or after the 6th April 2017, you are below the normal state pension age and if it has been less than 3 months since the passing of a loved one.

It is thus important that you claim for the bereavement support payment within 3 months of their passing, otherwise, you may miss out on receiving important benefits. If your partner passed away before April 6th, 2017 then you are eligible to apply for the bereavement allowance.

You may be eligible to receive the bereavement allowance if you meet the following criteria; 

  • You were 45 or older when your partner passed away
  • You are under the normal age you would receive the state pension
  • Your partner made national insurance contributions or they died as a consequence of an industrial-related accident or disease
  • You are not raising children who are dependent on you 
  • You have not entered a new marriage or joined in a civil partnership
  • You are not living with any other person as a consequence of that new marriage or civil partnership 
  • You are not spending time in prison

This Telegraph article argues that the new bereavement allowance guidelines are unfair to unmarried couples and their children. 

You can apply to receive the bereavement allowance by downloading a bereavements benefit pack from the www.gov.uk website.

Alternatively, you can also order one of these packs from your nearest Jobcentre Plus centre. After you have completed the bereavement benefits pack, you can return it to the Jobcentre and they will take things from there.

 It is important to remember that if you remarry or move in with someone new, you are no longer eligible to receive the bereavement grant. 

widows benefit

When do you receive the widow’s pension? 

The bereavement support payments are available to those over the age of 45 who are not yet of normal state pension age. The payments will be made weekly and can last for up to 52 weeks. 

You may be entitled to receive a one-off, tax-free payment of around £2000 if you are eligible for the bereavement payment. To qualify, you have to have been under the state pension age when your partner died. 

So, it is still possible to claim for the bereavement payment if you were over the state pension age at the time of their passing. You can also claim if they were not due to receive a state pension based on their national insurance payments. 

The amount of benefit that you are entitled to receive is dependent on your age at the time of your partner’s passing, your partner’s age when they passed, alongside the amount of their National Insurance Contributions.

It is important to remember that the younger you are, the less bereavement support payment you are eligible to receive. Yet, in some instances, you may be able to apply for and receive an additional pension benefit on top of any bereavement allowance, although this is dependent on your late partner’s earnings. 

What is the widow’s pension for over 65’s?

It is not possible to claim to receive any widow’s pension benefits over the age of 65 or below the age of 45. However, in some instances, it may be possible to receive some benefits through additional widow’s state pension payments, and this is again based on the earnings made by your late spouse/ civil partner during their career. 

What is the widow’s pension for over 70’s?

It is also not possible to claim to receive any widower’s pension benefits over the age of 65. Again, however, you may be entitled to receive additional widow’s state pension payments, and this is based on your partner’s earnings throughout their career. 

How much is a widow’s pension?

If you are eligible to receive a bereavement allowance you are entitled to weekly payments for up to 52 weeks, and the value of these payments is dependent on your partner’s earnings.

It is important to remember that the bereavement allowance is only for those whose partner died before the 6th of April 2017.

 In 2019/2020, the rates of bereavement allowance payments are as follows; 

Age when your spouse passed away Weekly allowance you are entitled to
55 until State Pension Age£119.90

54£111.51
53£103.11
52£94.72
51£86.33
50£77.94
49£69.54
48£61.15
47£52.76
46£44.36
45£35.97

If you are raising children who are at an age that they are dependent on you when your partner’s death, you are entitled to claim a widowed parent’s allowance.

The actual amount that you may be entitled to is dependent on your partner’s contributions to their National Insurance. The current rates in 2019/2020 are a maximum of £119.90 per week. 

You can continue receiving the widowed parent’s allowance until you stop receiving child benefits. You should, therefore, check when this will be if you think you are eligible to receive a widowed parent’s pension alongside any child benefits you receive. 

Moreover, it is important to note that you cannot claim a widowed parent’s allowance alongside any bereavement allowance at the same time. A potential alternative is to apply for probate, which can help you manage your partner’s estate following their death.

You may be eligible to receive a one-off, lump sum, tax-free payment of £2000 if your partner made national insurance contributions, their death was related to their job and you were under the normal state pension age when they passed away. 

Again, it is important to note the criteria to receive this payment, and you cannot claim the bereavement payment if you were divorced upon their death, you’re living with someone new or you are in prison. 

Another form of bereavement grant you could be entitled to is the bereavement support payment. If your partner died on or after April 6th, 2017, you may be eligible to apply and receive this alternative form of benefit.

To qualify and meet the criteria, your partner has to have made at least 25 weeks’ worth of contributions to their national insurance payments, or have passed away due to a work-related incident. 

In addition to this, you have to be based in the United Kingdom and be below the normal state pension age. The bereavement support payment in the 2019/2020 period is made up of a single, one-off lump sum payment, followed by 18 payments that are made each month. 

Additionally, there are 2 rates, a higher and a lower rate, and the rate you qualify for is dependent on meeting certain criteria. 

For instance, if you are eligible to claim child benefits, you will qualify for the higher rate. If you are not eligible to apply or and receive child benefit, then you will qualify for the lower rate. 

You have up to 3 months following on from your partner’s passing to claim a bereavement support payment. It is possible to apply up to 21 months after their passing, though you will receive a lower payment as a result, so it is recommended that you claim within the 3-month time frame. 

The table below provides more information on the amounts you could be eligible to receive; 

 First lump sumMonthly paymentsTotal payments
Higher rate £3,500£350£9,800
Lower rate£2,500 £100£4,300

You may also be eligible to receive other bereavement benefits through the social fund. For instance, you could claim on your partner’s funeral expenses if you are looking to claim benefits including support with income, pension credit, housing benefit, and council tax benefit. 

Also, if your partner passed away while serving in the armed forces, then you could apply for the war widow’s or war widower’s pension, though any amount that you could receive is dependent on how much they earned.

widows allowance

How long do you get a widow’s pension for? 

The widow’s pension usually lasts up to 52 weeks and is paid through weekly payments. Also, the payments are made until you reach the age you would begin receiving your normal state pension.

How much state pension does a widow get and what state pension spouse entitlement are you eligible for? 

You have to be over the normal state pension age to claim any extra payments from your husbands, wife’s or civil partner’s State Pension. 

What you are entitled to and how you go about claiming for this state pension is dependent on whether you reached the State Pension age before or after 6th April 2016, as a consequence of the 2016 pension reforms. 

If you reached the state pension age on or before April 6th, 2016, you will receive any state pension which depends entirely on your husband, wife or partner’s national insurance contributions while they were alive. 

You will not receive your state pension spouse entitlement if you enter a new marriage or civil partnership before reaching state pension age. 

If you reached state pension age on or after 6th April 2016, then you will receive what is now known as the new state pension. Alongside this, you could be able to inherit an additional payment alongside your pension. 

Depending on your pension scheme, you could receive payments from your husband, wife or partner’s pension scheme. This can vary depending on the scheme you are part of, for example, a defined benefit scheme, so it is worth checking with the pension schemes. 

However, you will have to pay an income tax on those payments if the pension scheme does not directly pay the tax for you.