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Widow Claiming Unemployment Benefit

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bond | 21:33 Thu 27th Jun 2013 | Business & Finance
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My mother is two months away from reaching state benefit age, her husband (my father) died a year ago, and her bereavement benefit has just ceased (only lasts a year). Despite several visits to the job centre she is being fobbed off and they are not signing her on to claim benefit. Can someone confirm that she is entitled to UB ? they keep asking her to go online and research stuff - she is 61 and never used a computer in her life. Even if she has a small pension from her husbands previous job, I thought she would be entitled to UB just for at least these 2 months before receiving a state pension (based on my fathers NI contributions). Nobody at the job centre seems to care.


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Jobcentre Plus staff know very little about 'signing on' (or, indeed, about benefits in general). Despite the 'Plus' bit in the name, which is meant to indicate that they provide a 'one stop' service, you can't even 'sign on' at a Jobcentre. They can't do the paperwork themselves, they've got no publicly-available computers for online claims and their publicly-accessible telephones (used by job seekers to contact employers, etc) won't accept the 0845 number used for telephone claims.

Assuming that your mother hasn't recently been in work (and paying Class 1 National Insurance contributions), she won't be eligible for 'contribution-based' JSA. (That type of JSA isn't means-tested).

She may, however, be entitled to the means-tested 'income-based' JSA if she's not got savings of over £16,000. (If she's got savings of less than £16,000, but of over £6000, any eligibility would be reduced).

You can read the eligibility criteria here:

However the best way to check whether a claim is valid is simply to submit one. Your mother can do it online here:
She has no need to worry about being accused of trying to cheat the system. As long as they are honest, anyone can submit a 'test' claim, to see if they can get anything. (e.g. if Richard Branson was to submit a claim, and was entirely honest, he'd obviously be turned down but he couldn't be accused of fraud).

Question Author
Thanks buenchico (chris). My mother has never paid Class 1 NI (it was only her husband who worked and paid that) and she has just a bit over £16K in savings, so I presume basically she is entitled to nothing until she reaches state benefit age.
Rather than struggling on her small private pension might as well dip into her savings a bit until she starts to draw her state pension. Spending some of her savings now may also mean she's more likely to be entitled to pension credit later which is means tested
Question Author
Interesting. So she could stash the savings at home in a safe and then claim the benefit? or spend it on home improvements and have nothing left and then claim the benefit?
Stashing in a safe and not declaring it would be fraud. Spending all one's savings on home improvements may be looked at to see if it was deliberate disposal of assets
Unless she is actively looking for work, she won't be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance anyway.
as it's only about 8 weeks, if she doesn't qualify/does't want to look for work she'll only be losing out on about 500 quid. If she just wants an easy life (as you seem to suggest) then she could just take the 500 quid out of her savings to live off in those 8 weeks, then there is no need to try and claim anything
Once she gets to state pension age she may find she is entitled to Pension Credit(PC) to top up the state pension. PC is means tested but the calculation for savings is done in a diffeent way than for working age people, & she may qualify. It will depend on how much state pension she gets and how much the small pension from her husband's work is. She should contact the Pension Service & claim when she gets to the right age.
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