Government issues bereavement support reminder to cohabitees

The government has issued a reminder to bereaved parents that those who lost their partner between 9th April 2001 and 8th February 2023 may be eligible for backdated government payments.

This comes after Bereavement Support Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance were extended in February to cohabiting parents with dependent children – benefits designed to help with the financial impact of losing a partner.

Previously, these benefits were only available to eligible bereaved parents who were married or in a civil partnership, but the law was changed to make it fairer to children.

When the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) extended eligibility in February, it opened a 12-month window for cohabiting parents to backdate their claims. This means parents whose partner died before 9th February 2023 have until 8th February 2024 to claim. After this, it will not be possible to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance and parents will not get their full entitlement to a backdated payment of Bereavement Support Payment.

DWP Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie said:

“This is an important law change which extends support to many more bereaved families with children, regardless of whether parents were married or in a civil partnership.

I would urge any parents eligible for backdated money to put in their claim now so they can benefit from this financial support as soon as possible.”

The benefit a parent is eligible for depends on the date their partner died. If their partner died before 6th April 2017, they would need to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance. If their partner died on or after 6th April 2017, they would need to claim Bereavement Support Payment, which has replaced Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

The earliest point payments can be backdated to is 30th August 2018, even if the partner died before this date.

To qualify for these bereavement benefits, parents must be under the State Pension age, have paid a certain amount of National Insurance contributions, and be either pregnant or having a dependent child on the day their partner died.

Alison Penny MBE, Director of the Childhood Bereavement Network said:

“It has been very moving to hear stories from parents who have received a backdated payment after years of being unable to access this lifeline benefit for them and their children. We think there are many others out there who could be in line for a payment.

We encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible to look into this, and seek specialist welfare benefits advice if they are in any doubt about the effects that a back payment could have on their wider tax and social security entitlements.”

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