Business As Usual: Please note that Brookman’s services to clients remain uninterrupted during the pandemic. Read more

Widowed Parent’s Allowance: Can Cohabitees Claim?

Date: October 4th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

 

 

As the law stands cohabitees are not able to claim the government-funded widowed parents allowance (WPA). Campaigners like pressure group Resolution argue that it’s just one example of the discriminatory treatment of the six million or so people who live together without being married. But could a recent Supreme Court decision mean the WPA is about to be extended so that the cohabitees can also benefit when one partner dies?

 

What Is The Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

The WPA is available to those whose husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017. If death occurred after that date a bereavement support payment may be available. It consists of a lump sum payment, currently £3,500 followed by 18 monthly payments of £350 So it’s a considerable benefit.

 

What Has The Supreme Court Decided?

A Northern Ireland woman, Siobhan McLaughlin discovered that when her partner, John Adams, died in 2014 she couldn’t access the WPA. This was despite the fact they had cohabited for more than 20 years and had children together. In a widely publicised decision the Supreme Court upheld Ms. McLoughlin’s claim that the rules on WPA discriminated against her and her children and represented an infringement of their human rights.

In her judgment the Supreme Court president Baroness Hale said limiting WPA benefits to married couples and civil partners could not be justified. She stressed that the needs of children of cohabitees are exactly the same to the needs of children of married couples.

 

When Will The Law On Bereavement Benefits Change?

That’s up to Parliament. Despite calls by a parliamentary committee as far back as 2016 to remove he marriage/civil partnership stipulation there have been no signs of any intention to change the law. Having said that the Supreme Court decision is likely to increase the chances of a change to the law that would impact up to 2,000 families. We’ve seen recently how the Supreme Court decision in Owens v Owens led almost immediately to a consultation on no-fault divorce . Could the WPA be the subject of a similar change? It remains to be seen.

 

A Word About Private Pensions

While all pension schemes have their own rules and benefits, cohabitees should examine the terms closely. While there is often an automatic payout to husbands, wives and civil partners, unmarried partners may need to explicitly nominate their partner as a beneficiary to receive any post death lump sum. And not all pension providers will permit this. If you have concerns you should approach your pension provider directly.

 

Contact Us

Cohabitees can encounter a number of legal issues that married couples don’t. For advice you can call us on +44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us online.

Share:

Google Reviews

Brookman Solicitors

61 Reviews

Jamie Warnes 16/03/2020

Excellent service. I had a consultation directly with Mr Brookman and his advice and guidance was very clear and helpful. Would highly recommend.

Deana Kendall 12/02/2020

I had been referred by a friend who has a close connection with the firm. I met with Mr Henry Brookman who offered me a free initial consultation to discuss my matter. Mr Brookman is very thorough and has great attention to detail and care. I genuinely feel that he has a great understanding of my circumstances and situation. Moving forward, I have received continuous updates (when relevant) regarding developments to my situation and all correspondences are clear. I feel confident with Mr Brookman's guidance and excellent team! Though my matter is still on-going for the time being, I cannot highly recommend enough! In any event, I will always be eternally grateful to Mr Brookman and his team.

Emma Hearse 03/02/2020

I had an initial consultation with Mr. Brookman, his advice was extremely thorough and relevant. I would recommend Brookman Solicitors.

Caroline Keane 17/01/2020

It was great to have a free initial consultation with Henry Brookman. He answered my questions, and I finished the conversation knowing what I needed to do next in order to resolve matters.

Niamh Tracey Smith 10/12/2019

Highly recommended. Speak to Senior Partner Henry Brookman directly to put your mind at ease and for expert guidance. Invaluable.