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

57 Reviews

Hossam Abdel Dayem 06/12/2019

Very professional service. I have had my first consultation with Mr Brookman who listened carefully to all my worries, answered all my questions and reassured me about the expected outcome. I can not begin to say how grateful I am to him for his help.

Rhea Steel 06/09/2019

I sent an email to book a free 45 min consultation. A senior partner answered my questions and put me at ease. No consultation needed!

A D 29/08/2019

I had the opportunity to meet Henry Brookman in a very difficult time of my life and he has been of great advise and support. Thank you!

Simon Rogerson 12/08/2019

I wanted to say a big thanks to Henry Bookman and his colleagues for all their help and guidance during my divorce - a long a complicated one. The team were all brilliant. I loved the fact that Henry was happy to explore possibilities and search for solutions. I also feel that on occasions he gave hope when things were against me. All told a great coach who was ready with pearls of wisdom when I needed it.

An'a. K 10/08/2019

I would strongly recommend this firm. I had the opportunity to discuss my case thoroughly with Mr Bookman. But before the initial consultation, I had a telephone conversation with a legal assistant who took most of the details down, so that my initial consultation was to the point I appreciate the advice given by Mr Bookman and think it a humble approach that the initial consultation is FREE and carried by the most senior member of the firm and not by a junior staff like it happens in other firms.