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:
- The Carer’s Allowance.
- Interest from a bank, building society or NS&I product (e.g. pensioner income, capital bonds).
- Income from letting out property.
- Income from Purchased Life Annuities.
- Foreign pension payments.
- Any other income that should get taxed.
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:
- The income that your employer pays income tax on through PAYE.
- Income you receive from a private pension.
- Income which is not liable for tax (e.g. Individual Savings Account).
- Certain benefits such as the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and the Bereavement Allowance.
- Any income if you will reach the State Pension age within four months.
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.
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:
- Bereavement Allowance: For those aged between 45 and State Pension age.
- Bereavement Payment: If your spouse or civil partner paid National Insurance.
- Funeral Expenses Payment: To help cover the cost of a funeral (for those on a low income).
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance: For those with at least one dependent child.
Contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service. They will confirm whether:
- You qualify for bereavement benefits.
- The death of your spouse or civil partner affects benefits, tax, and pension that you claim for.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Cold Weather Payment (for those on a low income).
- Warm Home Discount Scheme.
- Winter Fuel Payment (for those born on or before the 5th of July 1952).
Note: You need to pay Income Tax on some of the other benefits that you claim.
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.
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.
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.