Standing up to discrimination: Daniel's Story

April 2023

In September 2022, WAY member Daniel won a landmark High Court victory that could help dozens more widowed people claim Bereavement Support Payments in future… 


Daniel

In September 2022, the High Court ruled that it is a breach of human rights to deny Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) to surviving families of people who could not work because of life-long disability.

Daniel’s late wife Suzzi had severe disabilities and was unable to work throughout her life. This meant she was never in a position to pay National Insurance contributions, although she had a lengthy history of National Insurance credits. 

Daniel, 45, was a full-time carer for his wife, who was unable to work. The couple first met at nursery. They attended the same primary and secondary schools, were very close friends, fell in love and started living together in early adulthood. They were married in 2005.

Suzzi suffered from Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and many other conditions and died in November 2020. After Suzzi’s death, Daniel applied for Bereavement Support Payment but was refused because his wife had not paid sufficient National Insurance contributions due to her inability to work.

The High Court ruled, however, that this was a breach of human rights and that surviving families of those unable to work throughout their working life due to disability could still be entitled to the payments, even if the deceased had not paid sufficient National Insurance contributions. Payments include a lump sum of £2,500 and 18 monthly payments of £100 for couples not receiving Child Benefit; for those receiving Child Benefit, the lump sum payment is £3,500 and the monthly payments are £350.

“When my claim for Bereavement Support Payment was rejected, I felt angry. It was hard to understand why an injustice like this could take place." - Daniel 

"It was important to get the decision overturned because other people shouldn’t have to go through what I’ve been through at a difficult time in their lives when they first lose their partner.


Daniel and Suzzi

It’s not like I will ever be over Suzzi’s death, but I feel like I have been constantly trying to fight for something I and other people in my position should be entitled to because of the law’s perception of Suzzi and others. The case has validated Suzzi’s existence as a human being. I would like to thank the judge in this case for hearing the case and ruling in my favour. I want to thank Public Law Project, without their help this case would never have come to fruition.”

Alice Stevens, solicitor at Public Law Project said: “We’re delighted that our client has been successful and his human rights have been recognised by the court. We hope that the judgment will shore up the eligibility criteria of BSP in the UK and ensure that discrimination against those marginalised by disability is eliminated.”

Although the High Court has ruled in Daniel’s favour, the judge granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal this judgement to the Court of Appeal in June 2023.

In October 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled in Daniel’s favour. We are waiting to hear what this means for other families in Daniel’s circumstances.

Read more background about the legal case.

Read more about the latest developments here

Read Daniel’s story in inews.

Ian’s story

When he was widowed to Covid-19 in 2020, WAY volunteer Ian from Coventry was shocked to hear that his family wasn’t entitled to Bereavement Support Payments either, because – like Suzzi – his wife hadn’t paid enough National Insurance contributions during her lifetime due to ill health.

Read Ian's Story...