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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

War Widow's or Widower's Pension

A War Widow's or Widower's Pension is a tax-free pension you may be entitled to if your wife, husband or civil partner died as a result of their service in Her Majesty's (HM) Armed Forces or during a time of war.

Who is eligible?

You may be entitled to a War Widow's or Widower's Pension if any of the following apply.

Your husband, wife or civil partner:

  • died as result of their service in HM Armed Forces before 6 April 2005
  • was a civil defence volunteer or a civilian and their death was a result of the 1939 to 1945 war
  • was a merchant seaman, a member of the naval auxiliary services, or a coastguard and their death was a result of an injury or disease they got during a war or because they were a prisoner of war
  • died as a result of their service as a member of the Polish Forces under British command during the 1939 to 1945 war, or in the Polish Resettlement Forces
  • was getting a War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance at the time of their death, or would have been had they not been in hospital
  • was getting a War Disablement Pension at the 80 per cent rate or higher and was getting Unemployability Supplement

For those who served after 6 April 2005, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme offers financial help.

Unmarried partners

You may be entitled to a pension if you lived with your partner or civil partner as husband or wife.

How much do you get?

War Widow's or Widower's Pension is paid at a higher or lower rate.

You'll get the higher rate if you're:

  • the widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an officer above the rank of Major or equivalent
  • aged 40 or over
  • aged under 40 and getting an allowance for a child or unable to support yourself financially

Otherwise, you'll get the lower rate of pension until you reach age 40 when you'll get the higher rate pension.

Additional allowances

You may get additional allowances if:

  • you have children
  • you have accommodation costs (this only applies if you're getting an allowance for a child with a War Widow's or Widower's Pension)
  • you're aged over 65, 70 or 80
  • your husband, wife or civil partner was discharged from HM Armed Forces before 31 March 1973

Temporary Allowance for Widows or Widowers

You may get this allowance for 26 weeks after your wife, husband or civil partner has died if they were getting War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance Unemployability Supplement or your partner/civil partner was entitled to Unemployability Supplement that wasn't paid because they chose to continue getting Allowance for Lowered Standard of Occupation.

Temporary Allowance for Widows or Widowers is normally more money than a War Widow's or Widower's Pension. After 26 weeks you may get a War Widow's or Widower's Pension.

Funeral Expenses

The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency may be able to pay a maximum of £1,400 towards a simple funeral to a widow or widower, next of kin or person paying for the funeral if:

  • death was due to service before 6 April 2005
  • War Pensions Constant Attendance Allowance was being paid or would have been paid if the war pensioner had not been in hospital when they died
  • Unemployability Supplement was being paid at the time of death and the War Disablement Pension was assessed at 80 per cent or more

or

  • the person died in hospital while having treatment for a disablement they were getting a war disablement pension for

You must make a claim within three months of the funeral.

Current rates

You can check rates and allowances in the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency leaflet 'Rates of War Pensions and allowances 2011-2012'.

How it's paid

The War Widow or Widower's Pension is paid directly into your bank, building society, Post Office® or National Savings account that accepts Direct Payment.

Effect on other benefits

You can't get a War Widow's or Widower's Pension as well as Bereavement Benefit. But the War Widow's or Widower's Pension is usually paid at a higher rate and is tax-free.

You may only get State Pension based on your own contributions. Any Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance Benefit you get may be affected by War Widow's or Widower's Pension.

You may also be entitled to some extra allowances. Some of these may affect any benefits you get. Ask the Service Personnel Veterans Agency for more details.

How to apply

By telephone

You can ask for a claim form by contacting the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency's free helpline.

Call 0800 169 2277, textphone 0800 169 3458 (8.15 am to 5.15 pm Monday to Thursday, and 8.15 am to 4.30 pm on Fridays).

You can also get a form from your nearest War Pensioners' Welfare Service Office. You'll find them in the local phone book under 'Veterans Agency'.

What to do if your circumstances change

If you're a War Widow, War Widower or surviving civil partner whose late partner left service before 31 March 1973, you can keep your pension if you remarry or start to live with a partner after 6 April 2005.

Otherwise you must tell the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency straight away, this is because your War Widow or Widower's Pension will stop, although if you're getting children's allowances you may continue to get them.

Your pension may be restored (get it back again) if any of the following apply:

  • you become widowed again
  • your marriage ends in divorce or judicial separation
  • your civil partnership ends due to death
  • your civil partnership ends in dissolution
  • you stop living with the person as their partner or civil partner

Make sure you tell Service Personnel and Veterans Agency of any changes in your circumstances so you get the right amount of pension.

How to appeal

If you disagree with a decision about your claim you can appeal to an independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal within a certain time limit. But before you appeal it's a good idea to:

  • ask the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency for more information about how the decision was reached
  • ask for the decision to be reconsidered if there are some facts the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency may not have known when they made their decision

If you're still unhappy with the outcome, contact the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency to let them know that you want to appeal. They will tell what you need to do, and how much time you have to do this.

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