Unmarried parent who's lost their partner? If you lived together you may now be eligible for £1,000s in backdated bereavement support
If you lived with your partner but were unmarried, and they've sadly passed away, you could be entitled to thousands in backdated 'bereavement support' payments if you had children together, thanks to a new court ruling. Here, we explain all you need to know and how to apply if this affects you.
As of 9 February, unmarried couples who lived together, who were eligible for child benefit or were pregnant when their partner died, can now apply for help. Since we first published the news in our Weekly Email, one reader has told us they secured a backdated payment of £9,800.
If you've sadly experienced the death of a loved one, use our guide on What to do when someone dies. You should also consider Planning for death - we've 20+ crucial checks to minimise financial trauma.
Bereavement support payments are now available to unmarried parents who lived together
Until now, the bereavement support payment (BSP) and the widowed parent's allowance (WPA) were only available when a spouse died to eligible parents who were married or in a civil partnership.
But as of 9 February, unmarried parents who lived together now qualify. It follows a ruling by both the Supreme Court and High Court that found it was against the human rights of those who aren't married but living together with a child not to offer the same support that is offered to those who are married. Backdated claims will also be allowed to August 2018 - see below for more on this.
How much you can claim varies - here's how to do so
Bereavement support payment, which replaced widowed parent's allowance on 6 April 2017 for new claimants whose partner died on or after 6 April 2017, provides one initial payment of £3,500, followed by 18 monthly payments of £350.
New claimants who become eligible on or from 9 February 2023 can now submit bereavement payment claims online via Gov.uk, over the phone on 0800 151 2012 or through a paper application form.
Widowed parent's allowance pays £126.35 a week and you can continue to get this for however long you claim child benefit. If your partner died before 6 April 2017, you can also make a new claim for this support.
Backdated claims up to 30 August 2018 can now be submitted - here's how
If you and your partner had children and your partner died before 9 February 2023 you can make a backdated claim for either widowed parents allowance or bereavement payments - which one depends on your circumstances as we outline below.
Charity the National Children's Bureau estimates around 21,000 families - some bereaved as far back as 2001 when widowed parent's allowance was introduced - may be able to submit backdated claims.
You've got until 8 February 2024 to submit a claim, and you can do so by using the information above. Claimants for backdated payments fall into one of three categories:
- If your partner died on or between 9 April 2001 and 5 April 2017 (inclusive of), you can make a backdated claim for widowed parent's allowance if you met the eligibility criteria for it on or after 30 August 2018. If eligible, you'll receive payments backdated to 30 August 2018. For the 2022/23 financial year, this is £126.35 a week before tax, though this benefit is uprated every year, so previous years' will be less.
The backdated payment will be taxed. However, it's unclear if it will impact any benefits you currently claim. We've asked the Government to confirm and we will update this story when we know more. The National Children's Bureau cautions prospective claimants to seek benefits advice before claiming.
If you're eligible, you may also continue to get ongoing widowed parents allowance payments going forward. You can see the full eligibility criteria for widowed parent's allowance on Gov.uk.
- If your partner died on or between 6 April 2017 and 29 August 2018 (inclusive of), you can make a backdated claim for bereavement support allowance if you were eligible for it on or after 30 August 2018. If eligible, you'll get a backdated payment of £350 for however many months you remained eligible after 30 August 2018, up to a maximum of 18 months. You won't get the initial £3,500 lump sum payment. This payment won't be taxable, nor will it impact any benefits you currently claim.
- If your partner died on or after 30 August 2018, you can make a backdated claim for bereavement support allowance if you're eligible now. If eligible, you'll get the full backdated payment which is £9,800 (this includes the lump sum of £3,500 plus the £350 monthly payment for 18 months paid all at once). Again, this payment won't be taxable, nor will it impact any benefits you currently claim.
You can see the full eligibility criteria for the Bereavement Support Payment on Gov.uk.
''Without your email, my friend wouldn't have got £9,800 bereavement help after her partner died''
We first told you that unmarried parents are now due backdated bereavement support in our weekly email two weeks ago, as well as on MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder, Martin Lewis's ITV show. Since then, MSE readers have got in touch to tell us their stories.
Rhianne, who told her friend about it, said: "My friend successfully claimed £9,800 after her partner died in 2018. They were unmarried, but lived together with children for many years. As a single mother of three on a low income, this money will help so much. If I didn't get your emails, it's unlikely my friend would have known about the support. Thank you."
You may need to provide evidence to support your claim
The Government told us it would use Department for Work and Pensions records to confirm you were living with your partner and child/ren before they died. If this can't be done, you'll need to provide a proof of address for your partner, such as a utility or council tax bill.
If you miss the 8 February 2024 deadline, you may get less - or nothing at all
Here's what happens if you miss the 8 February 2024 deadline to submit a backdated bereavement support payment claim:
- Claims made between 9 February 2024 and 8 November 2025: Here, you'll get three months of £350 backdated, plus any future payments due.
- Claims made on or after 9 November 2025: No backdated payments will be due, though you can make future claims.
We're checking if the above deadlines also apply to backdated widowed parent's allowance claims and we will update this story when we know more.