Bereavement benefits for parents extended to cohabiting couples in Northern Ireland

The eligibility criteria for Bereavement Support Payment and Widowed Parent’s Allowance has been extended to those who lived together as a couple at the time of their partner’s death, having previously only been available to those who were married or in a civil partnership. Now bereaved cohabiting parents eligible for child benefit at the time of their partner’s death may be eligible for financial support.

This extension in the eligibility criteria is due to a welcome change in the law which ensures more children in bereaved families are equally supported, regardless of their parents’ legal relationship status.

For those parents whose cohabiting partner died prior to this change in the law and previously were not eligible for this financial support a special 12 month application window is now open and will remain open until 8 February 2024.

Bereaved parents may be able to receive backdated payments from 30 August 2018 onwards, depending on when their 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 that have already been paid in the period from 30 August 2018.

Further information

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

To make sure your family is claiming all the financial support you are entitled to, contact the Family Benefits Advice Service for a free, personalised ‘better off’ calculation on 028 9267 8200 or email