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Michael's story

Little girl resting her head on her dad's shoulder

Challenging the rules on Bereavement Support Payment

We helped our client, Michael O’Donnell, challenge the rules on Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) after his wife, Pauline, died.

Michael’s wife, Pauline, died from a progressive degenerative condition, which caused severe disability during her adult life.

After Pauline’s death, Michael made an application for BSP, which provides financial support for a surviving spouse or civil partner to help them deal with the immediate financial impact of losing a partner.


Michael’s application for BSP was rejected by the Department for Communities because Pauline had not paid national insurance contributions during her working life.

Law Centre NI assisted Michael to challenge the Department’s decision, helping him to secure the financial help he and his young family needed.

Not only has this made a difference to Michael, but it also will to others who find themselves in similar circumstances.

I feel a great sense of relief and vindication with this decision. Benefits are supposed to help people in times of greatest need. Instead, our family didn’t receive the support we needed because Pauline had never been able to work because of her disability. The aware of bereavement support would have gone a long way to helping our family cope with the financial position we were in shortly after her passing.