Have you tried to claim bereavement benefits?

Have you tried to claim bereavement benefits after the death of your partner? How did you find it? What should be done to improve it?

Two years ago, the government brought in the new Bereavement Support Payment benefit. Now, the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee is holding an inquiry into how people are finding it. We at Sue Ryder want to make sure the voices of bereaved people are heard at the inquiry.

If your husband, wife, partner or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017, we’d like to hear more about your experiences, to help shape our feedback to the government.

  • Had you heard about the benefit? How did you hear about it?
  • Were you able to claim the benefit?
  • Was it easy to claim?
  • Were you turned down because you weren’t married to your partner or in a civil partnership? Do you think this should change?
  • What would you do to improve the system?

Reply to this post by 8 May to share your experience and your views on how the system could be improved. We will use any responses to inform our response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry. We will not share the names of anyone who posts with the Committee.

As part of the same inquiry, we’d also like to hear how you coped with funeral costs.

As a financial advisor within Social Housing, I gave advice to bereavement advice in a very sensitive way by offering home visits. It can be a nightmare for those faced with sorting out the financial situation. Many changes to this particular support over the last 30 years, but when the Govt did a study a few years ago to see who was claiming and cost I read it and truly thought they would not bring the changes in. So drastic to those not at State Pension age and assumes you can or should work to support yourself. So for me personally, my husband had his state pension for 16 months, totally lost when he died, I was awarded the reduced Bereavement Allowance @ £100 a month for 18 months. My husband’s SP was worth £7000 a year, so big saving for the state. I’m fortunate, although I don’t get my SP until Dec 2020, 6 years after it was promised, I have a private pension, but if I didn’t I would have to work. When your retirement plans are based on being part of a couple, unless it happens to you, these changes go unnoticed. You do get an increased lump sum, up from £2k to £2,500. Not supposed to be for funeral costs but many will have to use it as funeral grant low and limited. It’s essential to seek advice but hard when you are dealing with loss,

Thanks SanW for sharing your experience - I’m really sorry to hear you lost on out the income you had planned for your retirement. That must have been an added blow to deal with on top of your grief.

I lost out in respect of State Pension like many other women, the fact that losing your partner deals another blow is totally unacceptable. I was fortunate I was aware of the limitations of bereavement allowance. Didn’t expect for one minute I would be on the receiving end.

My husband died in October 2017,never heard of bereavement payments,paid for the funeral with a cashed in ISA,nobody mentioned anything about this

It’s very limited and means tested Dusty

Hello. This is an appropriate subject. Ditto to all SanW has said. I would not have claimed any bereavement benefit if it hadn’t been for a friend telling me so I would have lost out. However, I did claim and used the lump sum of £2500 towards funeral costs. The claim procedure was relatively straightforward. I got £100 per month for 18 months. This has finished now as my husband passed away in June 2017. I do feel aggrieved as my husband only had 2 months retirement. Where has all his contributions gone? Certainly not to me. It is a big rip off by the government. 2 measly months…

I am also one of those ladies who have lost out with regards SRP. I am 62 so can’t claim for another 4 years. Once again, fleeced by the government. Fortunately I still work. I will continue to work after retirement age as my state pension will not be enough to live on. If there was still the 2 of us we would have been fine financially.

No mortgage now so at least that’s something, but that’s down to us and our sheer hard work. Nothing to thank anyone else for there.

I think it was wrong to take away the widow’s pension. My husband had worked hard all his life and taken so little back. Who’s reaping the benefits now? Certainly not me. I think his SRP should be mine - if not all, at least some of it.

On a slightly different subject, I think by increasing the state retirement age we are being forced to stay in jobs which could be relinquished for young people. I going off track a little but all relevant I think.

Thanks for bringing this topic to the fore.

It’s good that it is being discussed here too Kate. Our experience needs to be heard. I feel the same and ironically I’m fairly certain BA is based on your partners National Insurance record.

I’ve looked and it looks like they removed that condition when they changed: revised BA in 2017. But worryingly it has to be claimed within 3 months. Many won’t face sorting out finances so soon after loss.

I have claimed the allowance, haven’t recieved it yet but I only lost my husband two weeks ago. I have no income of my own, I have got to live from my savings until I can go on benefits. I will get some of my husbands private pension but it will not be much. Who will employ me now I am nearly 61. People I talk to all think you get widows pension they cannot believe how little they give you. So as well as losing the love of my life I am scared of bleak future with no money. We have to wait longer for the state pension and no bus pass or heating allowance which my husband did get. Just makes the grieving harder to cope with. I have never lived on my own before and my husband dealt with all the finance.

Anne

How I wish we had emojis as it would be a sad and angry one. So wrong and agree people think we will be well looked after. It was around £120 per week before 2017, paid for a year. The changes are drastic, even more so if you have dependent children. What sits behind it is short term support and get back to work or increase hours if you already are. To anyone affected, please please get advice tailored to your situation.

My husband died in December last year. I’d been his carer for the last 18 months. I officially retired in 2017 and receive my state pension. I had no savings to pay for his funeral as sadly my husband left me with no monies due to his being an alcoholic and we were ruined financially.
I applied for the Bereavement allowance, but after long telephone calls I was then informed that I wasn’t entitled to this as I was receiving my state pension. However, if I’d still be working I would have received it. If I’d have been working I wouldn’t have needed help.
I had to have one of the simple cremations, couldn’t attend as this was the only option financially which really upset me. I was lucky a good friend paid the upfront fee which I will be paying back on the sale of our house.
This was the only time I’d even tried to claim for any allowances having worked since leaving school with only a 5 year break in all those years.

Yes, claimed this. Easy enough to do. Was in a pamphlet I was given, ‘What to do after death’ or something like that, although tucked away about half way through. Needs to maybe have a bigger title or not tucked away.
Funeral costs were high, £6700 - and no limos. Bit of a shock really.

Hi, i lost my husband suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack at the end of July 2018. He was 49, I have dependent children and so was able to claim a lump sum and 18 monthly payments. Not sure how this would ever equate to his contributions or non use of state pension. It isnt means tested and was a help initially to help with funeral costs.
Having worked all my life so far I did not have a clue about benefits. I found out about this from a very lovely and helpful funeral director. Simple forms to complete, but guidance was unclear as to which government office to get them checked and receipted by. Got some help from local Job Centre Plus who certified everything then I sent them off. From then everything was processed really quickly.
Will help with some of the loss of his income but after then will all be down to me so annoyed that will only last for this time.

Thanks very much to everyone who has taken the time to share their stories here and I’m so sorry to hear that many of you have struggled with benefits and financial issues - that is such an added burden to deal with on top of your grief. If anyone needs more information about bereavement benefits, who is entitled and how to claim, you may find these links helpful:

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/bereavement-benefits/
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/claiming-bereavement-support-payment/

For more help, you can also contact Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444 or visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/.

One more question for all of you - is there anything you can think of that could have been done to make the bereavement benefits better for you?

Automatic payment through ‘Inform All’ facility would save some stress.

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Pay it for a longer period than 18 months. Why only for 18 months? The payment I received relates to me having dependant children. They will remain dependant until they finish in full time Education which could be till 18 or 21?

I’m not really sure what you mean by ‘better for you’.
Perhaps Haitch’s suggestion of paying it automatically could work. I thought I wasn’t entitled to it so almost didn’t claim.

I also agree that it should be paid longer than 18 months. As I’ve said in a previous post, my husband had 2 months only of his state pension and I feel I should be entitled to his share. It’s a disgrace. He worked and contributed all his life so where is it?

Hi Crazy Kate, you may inherit some or part of your partners pension if you’re of pensionable age. Check out www.gov.uk/new-state-pension
Think it’s page 26