Bereavement Benefits and Tax Credits

If you have been widowed there are benefits and tax credits you may be eligible to receive. Here is a summary of the help you may be able to get.

Bereavement Benefits

In April 2001 a new system was introduced called bereavement benefits. There are three types of bereavement benefit for men and women.

The first is the Bereavement Payment which is based on you late husband's or wife's NI contributions and is a one-off payment. You can make a claim if you are under the age of state pension age (60 for women, 65 for men), or you are over state pension age but your late husband of wife was not entitled to a Retirement Pension based on their own contributions when they died.

The second is Widowed Parent's Allowance, this benefit is based on your late husband's or wife's NI contributions, is for widows or widowers bringing up children and is paid in regular payments. You can make a claim if you are bringing up at least one child, expecting your late husband's baby, or expecting a baby as a result of artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilisation and are under State Pension age.

The third is Bereavement Allowance which is based on your late husband's or wife's NI contributions, is paid for 52 weeks from the date of bereavement and is paid in regular payments. You can make a claim if you are a widow or widower who was aged 45 or over when your husband or wife died, not bringing up children and under the State Pension age.

Other Bereavement Payment factors to consider:

  • If you are aged under 45 and do not have any dependent child or children you cannot receive Widowed Parent's Allowance or Bereavement Allowance.
  • If you were over state pension age when you were widowed you may get extra Retirement Pension based on your husband's or wife's NI contributions.
  • If your husband or wife died as a result of their job you may be able to get bereavement benefits even if they did not pay enough NI contributions.
  • You cannot get bereavement benefits if you were divorced from your husband or wife.
  • You cannot get bereavement benefits if you remarry or if you live with a partner as if you are married to them.
  • You may be able to get Widowed Parent's Allowance if you are not getting Child Benefit.
  • The amount of Bereavement Allowance you get is based on your age when you were widowed or when Widowed Parent's Allowance ends.
  • If you get Widowed Parent's Allowance you may be able to get the Additional Pension part of your husband's or wife's state Retirement Pension. You may know this as the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) or State Second Pension.
  • If you are already widowed you can get up to 100% of you late husband's or wife's SERPS.
  • If you husband or wife is due to reach state pension age before 6th October 2010, when they die you will receive a maximum of between 90% and 60% of their SERPS. The exact amount will depend on when, in this period, they are due to reach state pension age.
  • If your husband or wife is due to reach state pension age on or after 6th October 2010, you will receive up to 50% of their SERPS when they die.
  • SERPS was reformed from April 2002 to provide a more generous additional state pension for low to moderate earners, certain carers and people with long-term illness or disability. It is now called State Second Pension.
  • The maximum amount of State Second Pension that a surviving husband or wife can inherit will be 50%

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

You can claim JSA if you are under 65 (for men) or under 60 (for women) and are not working, or working on average less than 16 hours a week.

Child Benefit

If you are bringing up a child who; is under the age of 16, or is aged under 19 and studying full time up to A-level, Advanced Certificate in Vocational Education (ACVE) level 3 or equivalent, or is aged under 18 and registered at the careers office for work or work based training for young people, you can claim Child Benefit.

You do not have to be the child's parent to receive Child Benefit. You may get Child Benefit if you pay towards bringing up a child who does not live with you and no one else is claiming benefit for them.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit can provide income for families with children, whether in or out of work. It can be claimed by those responsible for one or more child or young person. To find out more about Child Tax Credit and to get the claim form TC600 visit: www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/taxcredits You can claim online too.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit can top up earnings of working people on low or middle incomes. It is intended to make work pay more than benefits. You can claim if you are aged 16 or over and working at least 16 hours a week and; are responsible for a child or young person or have a disability which puts you at a disadvantage in getting a job and you receive one of a range of qualifying disability benefits, or you are aged 50 or more and are returning to work after a 6-month period on qualifying out-of-work benefits.

If you can't answer yes to any of the above but are aged 25 or over and working at least 30 hours a week you can claim Working Tax Credit. To find out more about Working Tax Credit and to get the claim form TC600 visit: www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/taxcredits You can claim online too.

Social Fund Funeral Payments

The Social Fund Funeral Payment is there to help towards the costs if you are responsible for a funeral. It depends on your circumstances and not those of the person who has died. It is paid in a one-off payment.

You can claim if you are getting any of the following

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit where a disabled worker is included in the assessment
  • Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than the family element

You are able to apply for the Social Fund Funeral Payment any time after the date the person died and up to three months after the date of the funeral. The payment may have to be paid back out of the estate of the person who died.

The Social Fund

The Social Fund is there to help with exceptional expenses which are hard to pay out of your regular income. You may be able to get a Community Care Grant, Budgeting Loan or Crisis Loan to help with things like certain travel costs, household items or in an emergency or disaster.

For Community Care Grants you must usually be receiving either Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit. For Budgeting Loans you must have been getting one of these benefits for at least 26 weeks. For Crisis Loans you do not have to be getting any benefits. You do not have to have paid NI contributions to get help from the Social Fund.

Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans have to be paid back, but they are interest free. Funeral Payments usually have to be paid back out of the estate of the person who has died. Community Care Grants and other Social Fund payments do not need to be paid back.

Winter Fuel Payments

Winter Fuel Payments are paid to eligible households that include someone aged 60 or over to help with their winter fuel bills.

Income Support

Income Support is there to help people on a low income. If you have savings of over £8000 you usually cannot get Income Support (£16,000) if you live in a care home). If you have to sign on at a Jobcentre you cannot get Income Support. If you are aged between 16 and 60, on a low income and not working, or working on average less than 16 hours a week you can claim Income Support.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit tops up money you have coming in to a minimum level set by the government. There are two parts to the Pension Credit; the guarantee credit for people aged 60 and over, and the savings credit for people aged 65 and over.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

These benefits are paid by local councils, you do not have to be receiving any other benefits to qualify. If you are on a low income and paying rent you can claim Housing Benefit. If you are on a low income and paying Council Tax you can claim Council Tax Benefit.

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