Widows’ pensions explained

If your spouse or civil partner passes away, you may be entitled to receive a welfare benefit from the government to prevent you from suffering financial hardship in your time of loss. On this page, you’ll learn more about widows’ pensions (now called the Bereavement Support Payment) and the other benefits you may be entitled to.

Widows' pensionWidows' pensionWidows' pension
The rundown
  • The UK Widow’s Pension, now known as the Bereavement Allowance, was offered to widows aged over 45
  • You’re eligible to claim this allowance for up to 52 weeks if your partner or spouse died before the 6th April 2017
  • If your partner passed or passes away after this date, you’ll be eligible to claim a different type of governmental support, called the Bereavement Support Payment

What is a widow’s pension?

The Widow’s Pension (WP) was available until the 9th April 2001 to widows aged 45 or over to provide support if a spouse or civil partner has passed away. 

Initially intended for women whose husbands had died, the Widow’s Pension was first introduced in 1925 by the Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Benefits Act, and was payable until the widow reached the age of 65, retired or remarried.

The Widow’s Pension was replaced in 2001 by the Bereavement Allowance (BA), which is available to all widowed parents or surviving civil partners, regardless of gender. However, those already receiving a Widow’s Pension prior to this change continue on the Widow’s Pension scheme. 

The main difference between the Widow’s Pension and the Bereavement Allowance is that the latter is only payable for up to 52 weeks or until the bereaved partner reaches state pension age, whichever comes first. 

Bereavement Allowance only applies if your partner or spouse died on or before the 6th April 2017 because the 2014 Pensions Act ratified the new Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) scheme, replacing both the WP and the BA. With this in place, if your partner died or dies after the 6th April 2017, BSP is the financial support you may be entitled to receive.

How much Bereavement Allowance will I get in 2021?

If you’re eligible for the Bereavement Allowance, the amount you’ll receive in 2021 depends on the National Insurance contributions your partner made and your age at the time of your partner’s death. The younger you’re widowed, the less you’ll receive. The table below shows the weekly Bereavement Allowance based on the age of the bereaved at the time of their partner’s death:

Age when your spouse or civil partner died Weekly allowance
45 £36.59
46 £45.12
47 £53.66
48 £62.19
49 £70.73
50 £79.27
51 £87.80
52 £96.34
53 £104.88
54 £113.41
55 until state pension age £121.95

Am I eligible for Bereavement Allowance?

To be eligible for Bereavement Allowance, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • You were 45 years old or over when your spouse or civil partner died
  • You’re currently under the state pension age
  • Your partner paid their National Insurance contributions, or:
    • Died in an industrial, job-related accident
    • Died from an industrial illness, like asbestosis
  • You’re not raising any children
  • You haven’t remarried or joined a civil partnership
  • You’re not living with another individual as if you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • You’re not in prison 

How do I claim Bereavement Allowance?

You can claim your Bereavement Allowance by completing a form called the BB1. Alternatively, you can obtain a physical claim form from your nearest Jobcentre Plus, and return it there once it’s completed.

Claims will be dated once the office receives the form, and will only be backdated up to three months. It’s important to claim as early as possible so you avoid losing any benefits you might be entitled to. 

What is the Bereavement Support Payment?

Like the Widow’s Pension, the Bereavement Support Payment is a welfare benefit you can claim if your spouse or civil partner dies. This benefit is available to everyone, regardless of gender or income level. Unlike previous widow’s pension schemes, the BSP doesn’t have a minimum eligibility age, though it does stop when you reach state pension age. The BSP replaced the 2001 Bereavement Allowance, which is only applicable to those whose partners died on or after 6th April 2017.

Unlike the WP and BA, the Bereavement Support Payment consists of one initial lump sum payment of £2,500, though you may claim up to £3,500 if you have children. After this initial payment, you’ll be able to claim 18 monthly instalments of up to £100, or £350 if you have children.

Am I eligible to claim the Bereavement Support Payment?

You may be able to claim Bereavement Support Payment if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your spouse or civil partner died after the 6th April 2017
  • You’re below state pension age
  • It’s been less than three months since your partner or spouse died

How much is the Bereavement Support Payment?

The Bereavement Support Payment is a lump sum, usually a tax-free total of £2,000, but you’re not eligible if you’re divorced, live with someone else, or were in prison when your partner died. 

Claiming your Bereavement Support Payment is a similar process to claiming Bereavement Allowance. You’ll be eligible to claim as long as your partner paid their National Insurance contribution, they died on the job or in a job-related accident, and you were or are under the state pension age.

How do I claim the Bereavement Support Payment?

You must claim your Bereavement Support Payment within three months of your spouse or partner’s death in order to receive the full payment. If you claim after this time, you may receive fewer monthly payments. 

To apply for the BSP, you must download a BSP1 form or order it from your local Jobcentre Plus. When you’ve completed the claim form, send it to:

Bereavement Support Payment

Mail Handling Site A


WV98 2BS 

If you need any help on claiming you may also contact the Bereavement Support Helpline on 0800 731 0469. 

What is the Widowed Parent's Allowance?

If you were raising your children when your civil partner or spouse passed away, you may also be eligible to claim the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. The amount you’ll be able to claim will depend on your partner’s National Insurance contributions, and the maximum you’ll be able to receive is £121.95 per week in the 2020/21 tax year, which runs from the 6th April 2020 to the 5th April 2021. 

You can claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance until you are no longer eligible to receive child benefits. Keep in mind that you can’t claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Allowance simultaneously; you can only claim one or the other.

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