The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Benefits, Tax, and Pensions

Death of a Spouse: Benefits, Tax and Pension

As a rule, the death of a spouse or civil partner affects your benefits, tax, and pension. Check what you can claim and who to inform about a change in circumstances.

SPOUSAL DEATH: Some of your entitlements will change if your spouse or civil partner dies.

A change in circumstances can affect income rates and your rights to benefits. It often changes your tax allowance and income from a pension.

Income Tax and National Insurance

You can expect your income to change in some way following the death of your husband, wife, or civil partner.

In some cases, you may need to pay more tax. It could be extra income from annuities, pensions, benefits, or an inheritance.

Those who are on a lower income can expect to pay less tax. You could see a significant change to the income that you do not pay tax on (called personal tax allowances).

Income You Must Report to HMRC

You must report all the following to HM Revenue and Customs as income if you are get:

You can inform HMRC of the changes in your next Self Assessment tax return (if registered) or by telephone. HMRC do not need informing about:

Tax Allowances

Paying Income Tax means you also have 'Personal Allowance rates'. This is a set amount of earnings that you do not pay tax on. Thus, your personal allowance may differ when your income changes. HMRC will 'adjust' it once you report a fluctuation to your income.

Married Couple's Allowance

You may have been claiming the Married Couple's Allowance. This would apply if you, your spouse, or civil partner were born before the 6th of April 1935.

After the death of a spouse you can expect it to continue for the current tax year (up to 5th of April). But, HM Revenue and Customs will stop the payments after that date by automatic process. You should then continue to get your Personal Allowance as usual.

Blind Person's Allowance

The death of a spouse affects benefits including the Blind Person's Allowance. What if the deceased person was claiming the Blind Person Tax Allowance? You should ask HMRC to transfer the balance of the allowance to you - for that particular tax year.

HMRC Blind Person's Allowance Enquiries
Telephone: 0300 200 3301
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
United Kingdom phone call charges.

Reduced Rate National Insurance (NI)

The death of a spouse affects benefits, tax, and pension when you are a widow married before April 1977. You may be paying a reduced rate of National Insurance (NI). The reduced rate of National Insurance is sometimes called the 'small stamp'.

In some cases, you can continue paying the reduced rate. It will depend on certain other circumstances. Contact HMRC for further clarification on this matter.

What Happens to Welfare Benefits?

You may need to make new claims for some benefits entitlement that the person who died was claiming. There are other types of benefits to help you cope with bereavement. It applies most for people who are on a lower income resulting from the death of a spouse.

DWP Bereavement Benefits

Different types of bereavement benefits which are available to help you include:

Contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service. They will confirm whether:

DWP Bereavement Service
Telephone: 0800 731 0469
Textphone: 0800 731 0464

Note: You may need to make a new claim for Child Benefit and tax credits. It will apply if your spouse or civil partner was already claiming them.

Child Benefit

You may need to start a new claim for Child Benefit when a parent dies. This would apply if you were not the person already named as the claimant.

Tax Credits

You must inform the Tax Credit Office about the death of a spouse or civil partner within one month. They may contact you before. Even so, you can report the death to the Tax Credit Helpline by telephone.

Tax Credit Helpline: General Enquiries
Telephone: 0345 300 3900
Textphone: 0345 300 3909
Outside UK: +44 2890 538 192

Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
Sunday: 9am to 5pm
Closed Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day.

Reduced Income

Use a benefits calculator to check what you might get if your income reduces after the death of spouse or civil partner. You can also find out how to claim and apply for:

Note: You need to pay Income Tax on some of the other benefits that you claim.

Pension Payments

In some cases, you can get extra pension payments. They may come from the pension or NI contributions of your late husband, wife, or civil partner.

State Pension

The procedures for claiming will depend on when you reach State Pension age. For example, was it before or after the 6th of April in that tax year.

Note: Contact the Pension Service to check what you can claim from your husband, wife or civil partner's State Pension.

In a case where you reached State Pension age before the 6th of April and claim your own pension. NIC of your husband, wife, or civil partner is the determining factor. But, you do not qualify for this if you remarry or form a new civil partnership before you reach State Pension age.

If you reached State Pension age on or after the 6th of April, you will receive the 'new State Pension'. In some cases, you may be able to inherit an extra payment on top of your pension.

Private Pensions

The death of a spouse could mean you get payments from their pension. It could be a workplace, personal, or a stakeholder pension. Contact the pension scheme provider to find out. You may have to pay tax on a pension you inherit (unless the pension provider pays the tax for you).

War Widow's or Widower's Pension

You might qualify for the War Widow's or Widower Pension. It may apply if your spouse or civil partner died due to their service in the Armed Forces or because of a war.

How the Death of a Spouse affects Benefits, Tax, and Pensions in the United Kingdom