"The widow’s pension, awarded to widows over age 45, was replaced by the bereavement allowance in 2001. The bereavement allowance is given to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners over age 45 until they reach state pension age. It is paid for up to 52 weeks."
In 1969 I was aged 17 and still at school studying for A Level examinations when my father was diagnosed with cancer and died within a matter of weeks. He was aged 55 and Mum was 52. She had not worked for some years but that was fairly normal in ordinary working class households back then. She was not a well woman though.
It was a tough time in many ways, not least financially.
Dad was never out of work, served his WWII years over in Burma and the far-east, and always played by the book.
Unrecognised PTSD was simply classed as mental health issues back in the 1950's and the label that was attached to Dad during those post war years stuck tight. This meant his cancer was diagnosed late as his stomach problems were assumed to be more mental than physical. After weeks gradually becoming more physically ill the local mental hospital where he had been admitted decided investigations were needed. An X Ray quickly showed the extent of the cancer.
Extensive surgery followed but it was too late.
Dad was discharged home and died in less than two weeks.
We lived in a cheap rented property that lacked some basic amenities, by 21st Century standards, but it was home.
Dad had worked for the building section of our local council, City Engineers, and faithfully paid into what was called superannuation back then. Mum was given a "golden handshake" which helped but it was still tough.
She received a very small pension from the council and a state widow's pension. The widow's pension was £2.50 a week and she received an extra £2.50 as I was still at school.
But it was 1969 and bear in mind our rent was around £4 a month.
Even so it was difficult.
But imagine it was 2016 and there was no proper widow's pension available.
Mum would presumably have had to apply for JSA or ESA or whatever benefit she would be eligible for. She would have been forced to jump through DWP hoops and she would have failed.
Three years after Dad died Mum had a massive brain haemorrhage and was left severely disabled. Three years later she died.
There is no need to go into the painful details of those difficult years.
But they would have been so much worse in 2016. Back to the current Bereavement Allowance;
It also depends on your age when your partner dies. The younger you are, the less you’ll get. The rates in 2016/17 are as follows:
But remember that is only paid for up to 52 weeks.
Take into account the increasing state pension age also.
Depending on your year of birth you could not be eligible for a state pension until very old age.
Original plans to phase in higher retirement ages have been tweaked and will no doubt be tweaked again.
The age at which women qualify for the state pension is in the process of rising from 60 to 65 by November 2018, with the exact date depending on the month you were born.
That last sentence means that age will continue to rise.
Having rebranded Social Security as a welfare handout expect to see more older people struggling to make ends meet in later life.
For now the state pension is protected by a triple lock but that will not last forever.
The Measure of a Civilization By Alexander Atkins "Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."
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