Widowed Pension Allowance

I’ve recently seen Martins video explaining on how to claim back this allowance and that the deadline is the 8th February 2024.

However I just wanted to share my experience of the benefits system. 
My wife passed away in October 2012 aged 39. We had two children aged 8 and 6. I contacted the benefits department and was informed that I would qualify for the Widowed Pension Allowance(WPA). I received the payments and had no problems until I informed the DWP in 2019 that I was about to remarry in the February of 2020. 

It was my understanding that you are eligible for the WPA until the child turns 18 or you was to remarry. 

After informing the DWP of the change in circumstances, I received a letter informing me that I owe them just short of £30,000.00 
This was due to my new partner moving into the house in 2014 and that I never declared it. They calculated 5 years of payments and sent a debt collection letter. 
I now am in a debt recovery plan to pay back the monies. 

Please be careful before you ask for any benefits. We don’t believe we had done anything wrong. They obviously knew my new partner had moved into the property, however they never questioned the payments at that point, and continued to pay the benefit. 

I can honestly say, it was one of the most stressful times of my life. If losing your partner/loved one isn’t enough, to be paid a benefit to help you and then demand it back is sickening. 

Comments

  • Spoonie_Turtle
    Spoonie_Turtle Posts: 8,158
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    Matt3659 said:
    I’ve recently seen Martins video explaining on how to claim back this allowance and that the deadline is the 8th February 2024.

    However I just wanted to share my experience of the benefits system. 
    My wife passed away in October 2012 aged 39. We had two children aged 8 and 6. I contacted the benefits department and was informed that I would qualify for the Widowed Pension Allowance(WPA). I received the payments and had no problems until I informed the DWP in 2019 that I was about to remarry in the February of 2020. 

    It was my understanding that you are eligible for the WPA until the child turns 18 or you was to remarry. 

    After informing the DWP of the change in circumstances, I received a letter informing me that I owe them just short of £30,000.00 
    This was due to my new partner moving into the house in 2014 and that I never declared it. They calculated 5 years of payments and sent a debt collection letter. 
    I now am in a debt recovery plan to pay back the monies. 

    Please be careful before you ask for any benefits. We don’t believe we had done anything wrong. They obviously knew my new partner had moved into the property, however they never questioned the payments at that point, and continued to pay the benefit. 

    I can honestly say, it was one of the most stressful times of my life. If losing your partner/loved one isn’t enough, to be paid a benefit to help you and then demand it back is sickening. 
    I'm sorry to hear of your experience and the stress it caused.  I just want to pick up on this point though - did you tell them when your partner moved in?  If not, how did they know?

    *I don't know the rules around this benefit and whether living together counted, as it does for means-tested benefits.*  But assuming that all the relevant departments of DWP know something (usually because one department has been informed) is a mistake easily made, and one that lots of people make.
  • DE_612183
    DE_612183 Posts: 1,607
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    It states on the .gov website: 
    • When you cannot claim WPA

      have remarried or are living with another person as if you’re married to them or as if you’ve formed a civil partnership

    I think where sometimes people make mistakes, is that they assume that when there is a change in circumstances they let the Gov Dept work it out.

    You should really have been aware of the terms of the benefit and advised them when your circumstances change.

    I understand it's a lot of money, and I hope that they do let you keep some or all of it.
  • Matt3659
    Matt3659 Posts: 2
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    Not sure how they knew, I’m assuming they knew from the electoral roll, or from bank accounts etc. But they knew, and the most frustrating part of it is, that if they knew I wasn’t entitled to the benefits any more, why did they continue to pay for another 5 years before informing me of this. 
  • Spoonie_Turtle
    Spoonie_Turtle Posts: 8,158
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    Matt3659 said:
    Not sure how they knew, I’m assuming they knew from the electoral roll, or from bank accounts etc. But they knew, and the most frustrating part of it is, that if they knew I wasn’t entitled to the benefits any more, why did they continue to pay for another 5 years before informing me of this. 
    When you informed them of the change of circumstances did they maybe include a question about when your partner moved in?

    What I meant by the question in my previous comment - which reading it back, was not clear at all, sorry - was how did you expect them to know, if you didn't inform them?  Which you've kind of covered. 
    Unfortunately the various government departments do not talk to each other, and even different parts of the same department (e.g. DWP) don't talk to each other unless there's a specific reason to prompt it.  So it is the claimant's responsibility to inform of any relevant changes of circumstances, not assuming that the department administering the benefit will just know without being explicitly told.
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,633
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    Why would DWP be checking the electoral role or your bank accounts?
  • DE_612183
    DE_612183 Posts: 1,607
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    this:

    So it is the claimant's responsibility to inform of any relevant changes of circumstances, not assuming that the department administering the benefit will just know without being explicitly told.

    And when you were given the benefits this is one things you would have agreed to - the fact that you didn't is not anyone elses fault.

    If your partner moved in in 2014, then at the moment you should have been asked to pay back 9 years, so to only have to pay back 5 I'd consider you lucky.

    What some people fail to get is that all benefits are paid for by taxpayers and there is only so much that can go round - reciving benefits you are not entitled to is a burden on the state & taxpayers & those who genuinely qualify - because the money has to come from somewhere.
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