BENEFITS EXPERT: Am I entitled to receive any bereavement based benefits?

Q. I am 74 years of age, my partner has recently passed away, she was 71 years old, and we have never been married.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 12:00 am
"You should be able to make an application for help with funeral costs under the Social Fund."
"You should be able to make an application for help with funeral costs under the Social Fund."

I understand I might see an increase in my current benefits or entitlement to bereavement based benefits. I currently get my State Pension and a small amount of Savings Pension Credit. What could I potentially claim?

A. Dealing with specific bereavement benefits,

Firstly bereavement based benefits (the current benefit is called Bereavement Support Payment) can only be claimed if the surviving party is under State Pension Age.

As such your age precludes you from claim.

Even if this were not a factor Bereavement Support can only be claimed if you were married or in a Civil Partnership.

The only exception to this rule would be for cohabiting couples who have dependent child when one party passes away.

Sometimes your State Pension may increase if a spouse passes away, for example you might not have a full pension due to a shortfall in National Insurance.

In this situation your late spouse’s NI can be used to increase your own State Pension. Again however this provision only applies to married couples or couples in a civil partnership.

Legal challenges in the past by co-habitees have failed at court, the only exception being cohabiting couples with dependent children.

You should however be able to make an application for help with funeral costs under the Social Fund.

You are receiving a qualifying benefit (which is Savings Pension Credit) and the fact that you not married doesn’t preclude you from claiming, co-habitees are not penalised in this situation.

The grant is not repayable if successful but you may not get the full costs of the funeral. You have six months from the date your partner passed away to submit the claim.

You should also make sure you might now be entitled to other support if you no longer have your late partner’s own income coming in.

So for example your Pension Credit may increase, and you might see an increase in other benefits such as council tax reduction so seek advice from a benefit specialist.