Bereavement benefits explained: What are bereavement benefits?
Bereavement is extremely difficult to manage at the best of times, but amid the global coronavirus pandemic, many people are facing the tragic loss of life in even more difficult circumstances. Many people are struggling financially as well as mentally, but what bereavement benefits are on offer to provide assistance?
As of 5.30pm on April 29, there have been 220,388 deaths worldwide linked to COVID-19, of which 21,678 are in the UK.
Bereavement benefits are available for those whose partners have died.
The benefits available to you depend on:
- Your age
- Whether you have dependent children
- Whether the person who died paid enough National Insurance Contributions during their working lives.
If you and your spouse were eligible to claim marriage allowance at any time from April 2015 but did not claim before the death of your partner, you are able to now claim up to four years’ worth of backdated missed payments.
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What is Bereavement Support Payment?
Bereavement Support Payment has replaced Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Payment, and is paid to you at one of two rates depending on whether you have dependent children.
To claim Bereavement Support Payment you must be below State Pension age.
Additionally, to be eligible your spouse or civil partner must have made National Insurance Contributions for at least 25 weeks during their working life.
However, if your spouse or civil partner died as a result of industrial injury, their national insurance contributions may not matter.
This benefit is only paid for 18 months after the date when your spouse or civil partner died, so it is important to claim as soon as possible to avoid losing out on money.
How much is Bereavement Support Payment?
Bereavement Support Payment is paid at either a standard or higher rate.
For pregnant women and those entitled to Child Benefit, the higher rate is paid as follows:
- £350 a month for 18 months following the deaths
- £3,500 paid as a one-off lump sum during the first month.
The standard rate paid to everyone else as follows:
- £100 per month for 18 months
- £2,500 paid as a one-off lump sum during the first month.
You can find out more here.
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What is the Funeral Expenses Payment?
The Funeral Expenses Payment can help pay for some of the costs of the following:
- Burial fees for a particular pot
- Cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate
- Travel to arrange or attend a funeral
- Cost of moving the body within the UK, if it is being moved more than 50 miles
- Death certificates or other documents.
You can get up to £700 if the person died before April 8, 2020, or £1,000 if the person died on or after April 8, 2020.
You can find out more information here.
What is Guardian’s Allowance?
The Guardian’s Allowance is a payment given to those who are bringing up a child whose parents have died.
You may also be eligible if there is one surviving parent.
As of April 2020, Guardian’s Allowance is fixed at £17.90 a week per child and is paid on top of Child Benefit.
Most means-tested benefits and tax credits completely ignore income from Guardian’s Allowance; however, some Council Tax Support schemes do treat it as income.
You can find out more here.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted bereavement support?
Depending on your circumstances, you could be eligible to receive financial support including:
- Help with funeral costs, for those on a low income and recipients of certain benefits
- Bereavement Support Payment when someone has lost their spouse or civil partner and is under State Pension age.
- Guardian’s Allowance, for those bringing up a child whose parents have died.
Bereaved frontline families of NHS and social care staff in England will be entitled to a lump-sum payment of £60,000.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this payment this week as he confirmed 82 NHS and 16 social care worker deaths.
He said he felt a “deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones”.
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