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Deadline looms for backdated bereavement payments for unmarried parents as charities urge families to check eligibility





There are fears that thousands of unmarried parents whose partners have died will miss out on bereavement benefits as the window for retrospective applications closes.

If a couple with children are married - or in a civil partnership - and one dies the surviving parents is able to claim bereavement support.

The law changed in 2023 to give unmarried couples the same rights as those married. Image: iStock.
The law changed in 2023 to give unmarried couples the same rights as those married. Image: iStock.

Last year after years of campaigning by families and charities, that law was amended to give cohabiting couples bringing up grieving children the same right.

From February 2023 unmarried couples have been able to claim the same bereavement benefits as those who are married – while the change in criteria also meant an estimated 21,000 families were able to make restrospective claims.

But bereaved partners only have until Thursday, February 8 to submit a request for the full amount they may be entitled to.

Families only have until February 8 to make a retrospective claim for the full amount. Image: iStock.
Families only have until February 8 to make a retrospective claim for the full amount. Image: iStock.

By the autumn of last year less than a quarter of those who could be in line for the help had made a claim – potentially leaving millions of pounds in support unclaimed unless thousands more people step forward.

Charity Childhood Bereavement Network, which has produced a guide on its website to support parents who may need to issue a claim before time runs out, says it would be ‘devastating’ if families missed out again because they simply weren’t aware of the changes to the law.

Anyone whose partner died after 2001, which left them bringing up children for whom they were still eligible for children benefit in August 2018 is encouraged to check their eligibility.



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