What are bereavement benefits?

Bereavement benefits can be paid to someone whose husband, wife or civil partner has died. Currently, co-habiting couples are not eligible for bereavement benefits. 

If your partner died on or before 5 April 2017, you may be getting the following:

  • Bereavement Payment – a tax-free bereavement payment.
  • Bereavement Allowance – a weekly payment for people who were aged 45 and over, but under State Pension age, when their partner died.
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance – a weekly payment for people who have children or young adults and are receiving Child Benefit.

If you are making a new claim and your partner died on or after 6 April 2017, you need to apply for Bereavement Support Payment. We have more information about this benefit below.

Bereavement Support Payment

You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months. It is important to know the following.

You must apply within 3 months of the death of your husband, wife, or civil partner to get the full amount. You can apply up to 21 months after the death, but your payments will be less.

You get a first lump sum payment and then up to 18 monthly payments. This is to help pay for extra costs resulting from the death of your husband, wife or civil partner.

There are two different rates. If you are entitled to Child Benefit, you get the higher rate. Otherwise, you get the lower rate unless you were pregnant when your husband, wife or civil partner died.

Bereavement Support Payment is not counted when working out the benefit cap. This is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can receive. But getting Bereavement Support Payment does not mean that the benefit cap does not apply to you.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, Bereavement Support Payment does not affect your benefits for a year after your first payment. After a year, any payment you have left over could affect the amount of benefit you get. You must tell your local Jobcentre Plus when you start getting Bereavement Support Payment.

In Northern Ireland, Bereavement Support Payment does not affect any other benefits you get. But, in some cases, it may count as savings when you apply for other benefits.

Who can claim?

To get Bereavement Support Payment, you must have been under State Pension age when your partner died.

You could be eligible if your husband, wife or civil partner either:

  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in any one tax year
  • died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work.

If you are already claiming Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent's Allowance, you will continue to get that benefit in the same way as before. You can find out more about these older benefits at GOV.UK

You cannot get any bereavement benefits if you were:

  • divorced from your husband or wife when they died
  • you and your civil partner had ended your civil partnership.

How much could I get?

How much Bereavement Support Payment you get depends on whether you have children.

If you were not pregnant when your partner died or have no dependent children, your payments will be lower.

How can I claim?

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can download a Bereavement Support Payment form (BSP1) at GOV.UK or you can order it over the phone from your local Jobcentre Plus.

For more information, call the Bereavement Service helpline on 0800 731 0469, or use textphone 0800 731 0464.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can download a claim form at nidirect.gov.uk or call the Bereavement Service on 0800 085 2463.

Other support with bereavement

You may also be able to get help towards funeral costs if you get certain benefits. For more information, call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00.

Visit macmillan.org.uk/inyourarea to find out if you can see a Macmillan welfare rights adviser in person.

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Sean Conroy, Macmillan Welfare Rights and Energy Advice Team Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.