Can I claim bereavement benefits?

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Q. My partner passed away last month, am I entitled to Bereavement Payments?

You might be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your spouse or civil partner died on or after April 6, 2017 (You can apply for different bereavement benefits if they died before April 6, 2017).

You can only claim Bereavement Support Payment if you were married or in a civil partnership.

If you weren’t married, or in a civil partnership with the deceased you aren’t eligible to claim Bereavement Support Payment. However, it might be worth applying and challenging the decision, because it could be possible to argue that this rule is discriminatory.

You also need to be under State Pension age - and you must have been living in the UK when your spouse or civil partner died.

You can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK if you’re not sure.

You must have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in Northern Ireland at the time of death. This means that you have been living in Northern Ireland, with only temporary or occasional absences.

Your spouse or civil partner must have paid National Insurance for at least 25 weeks in a single tax year. When you apply, the Bereavement Service will check to see if they paid enough National Insurance.

The deceased must have earned at least the weekly lower earnings limit for 25 weeks or more in any one tax year. For benefit purposes, National Insurance contributions are treated as having been paid once earnings reach the lower earnings limit.

If your spouse or civil partner died because of an accident at work, or from a disease caused by their work, the rule about National Insurance doesn’t apply.

How much you can get

If you don’t have children, you can get a lump sum payment of £2,500 and monthly payments of £100 for up to 18 months.

If you have children or you’re pregnant, you can get a lump sum payment of £3,500 and monthly payments of £350 for up to 18 months.

You won’t have to pay tax on any of the payments, including the lump sum.

To get the higher rate your client must have already been entitled to - or become entitled to - Child Benefit when your spouse or civil partner died.

If you became entitled to child benefit when your spouse or civil partner died, the children or young people must have been living with either of you before the death occurred.

You won’t lose your Bereavement Support Payment if you marry, enter a civil partnership or move in with a new partner.

You won’t be paid your Bereavement Support Payment if you’re given a prison sentence. If you’re in prison on remand, you’ll still be able to get Bereavement Support Payment unless you’re later sentenced to imprisonment.

If you still have some of the lump sum left after a year, it could affect the amount of other benefits you can get. Your monthly payments won’t affect your other benefits.

Bereavement Support Payment is disregarded as income for income-related benefits.

When to apply

You should try and fill in the form as soon as you can.

The Bereavement Service will count your application as late if you apply more than three months after your spouse or civil partner’s death. You’ll lose one monthly payment for every month your application is late.

To get the lump sum your application must reach the Bereavement Service within 12 months of your spouse or civil partner’s death. If your application arrives after 12 months, the lump sum will be reduced to the same amount as the monthly payments.

How to apply

You can: download a Bereavement Support Payment application form from the nidirect website; order an application form by calling the Bereavement Service; or apply over the phone by calling the service on 0800 085 2463, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

If you order the form or apply by phone, make a note of the date and time you call.

If you need help to fill in the form, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Make a copy of the form if you can - you might need to refer to it later.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk.