Bereavement Support Payment - what it is and how it works

The death of a spouse or civil partner is devastating. Bereavement support payment is in place to help those going through this fraught time financially

a mother and son
(Image credit: Getty)

Bereavement Support Payment is a benefit paid to widows, widowers, surviving civil partners or cohabiting partners who are bereaved on or after 6 April 2017.

It is made up of an initial lump sum followed by up to 18 monthly payments depending on your eligibility. 

The law has recently changed to include cohabiting partners in the eligibility criteria for Bereavement Support Payment. 

The same also applies to the Widowed Parent’s Allowance: cohabiting parents can now claim this benefit if their partner died before 6 April 2017, and have been eligible for child benefit since 30 August 2018. The payment depends on your deceased partner’s national insurance contributions but the maximum is £126.35 a week. 

Both benefits had previously been limited to married couples. 

It means applications are open for the estimated 21,000 unmarried parents affected who are under pension age and will be backdated to 30 August 2018.

As 232 weeks have passed since August 2018, the maximum Widowed Parent’s Allowance someone could claim would be £29,313. 

Bereavement Support Payment

What is Bereavement Support Payment?

If your spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner died on or after 6 April 2017 you may be able to receive Bereavement Support Payment.

There are two levels of support:

  • Higher support (if in receipt of child benefit or pregnant) consists of an initial lump sum of £3,500 and 18 monthly payments of £350 each. This equates to a maximum of £9,800.
  • Lower support consists of an initial lump sum of £2,500 and 18 monthly payments of £100 each. Adding up to a maximum of £4,300.

You must claim within three months of your partner’s death to get the benefit in full - leave filling in the application up to 21 months after their death and you’ll get fewer monthly payments.

Eligibility for bereavement support payment:

 You will be eligible for bereavement support payment if:

  • your deceased partner made National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year since 6 April 1975
  • or if they died because of an accident or illness caused by their job
  • they were under the state pension age when they died
  • You are or were under State Pension age when your partner died
  • You must have been under State Pension age on 30 August 2018
  • When your partner died, you must have been getting or been entitled to Child Benefit or have been pregnant.

How do I claim Bereavement Support Payment?

If your partner died on or after April 6, 2017, download and fill in the bereavement benefits form (BSP1) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

If your partner died before April 6, 2017, download and fill in the Widowed Parent's Allowance claim form (BB2) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

You can also order forms from your nearest Jobcentre Plus and return them there.   

Katie Binns

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.