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Bereavement benefits extended to unmarried cohabiting parents in NI

Benefits designed to help parents with the financial impact of losing a partner are to be extended to cohabiting partners from tomorrow (Thursday 9 February), the Department for Communities has said.

Eligibility criteria for Bereavement Support Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance is to be extended to those who lived together as a couple at the time of their partner’s death, having previously only been available to bereaved partners who were married or in a civil partnership.

Bereaved cohabiting parents eligible for child benefit at the time of their partner’s death may be eligible for support.

The extension follows a change in the law which ensures more children in bereaved families are equally supported, regardless of their parent’s legal relationship status.

A special 12-month application window for parents with dependent children whose cohabiting partner died before 9 February 2023 will also open tomorrow. The bereavement benefit and amount they are entitled to will depend on when they lost their partner.

Bereaved parents may be able to receive backdated payments from 30 August 2018 onwards. The qualifying dates for backdated payments will depend on the date a cohabitee’s partner died.

A surviving parent who lost their partner on or after 6 April 2017 may be eligible for Bereavement Support Payment.

Those who lost their partner before 6 April 2017 may be eligible for Widowed Parent’s Allowance if they still had child benefit entitlement for at least one child on 30 August 2018. Backdated payments of Widowed Parent’s Allowance may be reduced by the amount of any other benefits paid in the period from 30 August 2018.

Claims for Bereavement Support Payment or Widowed Parent’s Allowance can be made over the phone by calling 0800 085 2463 or through a paper application form. Application forms can be downloaded from nidirect.

The law change comes into effect on 9 February, following Westminster’s approval of the Bereavement Benefits (Remedial) Order 2023.

More details on the full eligibility criteria and claims process will be available on nidirect from 9 February 2023.

Bereavement Support Payment - 

Widowed Parent’s Payment - 


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