BENEFITS EXPERT: ‘Am I entitled to bereavement support now I am widowed?’

Q. I was recently widowed, both me and my late husband were both retired. I inquired about payments for bereavement support but have been advised that the main payments are only available for people under State Retirement Age.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 12:00 am
It would still be advisable to seek advice about other benefit entitlement.

Is this correct and if so is there any other type of help I may be entitled to?

A. It is correct that in order to receive Bereavement Support Payments you must be below State Retirement Age, this would still be the case if you and the deceased had responsibility for any children (for example if you had legally responsibility for grand-children and were receiving Child Benefit, Tax Credits, etc.).

However you will probably be entitled to an increase to your State Retirement Pension based on any National Insurance Contributions you husband made during his working life. So for example you might not have paid sufficient NI to qualify for a full pension but your late husband’s contributions can be “transferred” and this could increase you pension.

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The amount of increase will vary from person to person and will also depend on whether your husband received an “old” State Pension or the New Style Retirement Pension.

When you register the death with the local council the registrar will normally give you details of the DWP’s service for dealing with the benefits of the deceased. This enables you to notify the DWP of the death and then they will liaise with all relevant departments to make sure benefits are ended or transferred to you.

It would still be advisable to seek advice about other benefit entitlement as the one stop service will only deal with existing benefit claims and not anything new you may be able to claim. You may also be eligible for help towards funeral costs via The Social Fund provided you receive a qualifying benefit. Typically in your situation the main benefits would be Pension Credit (either Guarantee or Savings or both) or Housing Benefit. Again seek benefit advice if you aren’t currently getting these benefits, you may now qualify following the death of your husband.