BENEFITS EXPERT: Getting help with funeral costs

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The man who had been my partner for many years and the father of my children, but whom I never married, has just died. He was a pensioner but I am still of working age. I do not have a job and receive no benefits. Can I get any help with the cost of the funeral and what can I now claim for living expenses?

If you are accepting responsibility for the cost of the funeral, you can claim a Funeral Payment as the partner of the deceased to cover the cost of a basic funeral. The one condition is that you must be receiving one of the ‘qualifying benefits’. These are means-tested benefits such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Housing Benefit.

You will probably have to claim means-tested benefits right away anyway because payments and allowances paid specifically for bereavement are only payable if the person you have lost is a husband, wife or civil partner.

You will need to register unemployed and claim JSA if you are fit for work or claim ESA if you are not.

You must claim a Funeral Payment within three months of the funeral, so do not delay while you are waiting for a decision on your qualifying benefit.

If your claim is refused because you are not yet receiving a qualifying benefit, you should re-claim within three months of it being awarded.

The Department for Work and Pensions has a Bereavement Helpline on 0345 606 0265 which will provide help and support for those who have lost someone close to them.

I am a 69 year old widow with a weekly pension income of £179. I pay Council Tax of £156 a month for ten months. I currently have a part-time job, but if I stop working what help will I receive? I have £4,000 in the bank.

If you cease work you would be entitled to Pension Credit (Savings Credit) of about £3.70 a week and Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £173 a year (or monthly payments of £17.30).

You can claim Pension Credit by phoning 0800 99 1234 and your claim for Council Tax Benefit will be dealt with at the same time.

I have a State Pension of £79.61 a week. Can I claim a pension on the National Insurance of my husband who is 79?

Sorry no. This is because the pension you receive on your own National Insurance is more than you could receive on your husband’s. You can only get the bigger of the two, not both.