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Death and benefits

  • How death affects benefits

How death affects benefits

As well as the emotional effects of the death of someone you cared for, there will be practical matters to deal with. Your own benefits may be affected, and you'll need to notify the agencies that were paying benefits or tax credits for the person who has died. There are also benefits to help with funeral costs.

Help with funeral costs for people on a low income

If there are no other means of paying for a funeral, you may be able to claim a Social Fund funeral payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. Eligibility is based on your circumstances (rather than those of the deceased person) and you may be eligible if you or your partner receive at least one of the following benefits:

You can claim a funeral payment any time between the date of the death and three months after the date of the funeral. The payment you receive will cover the cost of specified necessary items and services (such as burial fees) and up to £700 for other funeral expenses. The payment will not necessarily cover all the costs of the funeral, so you may have to pay an outstanding amount.

Notifying the agencies that were paying benefits

The agencies that were paying benefits or tax credits for the person you were looking after will need to be notified of their death. To do this, you can:

  • send the death certificate (form BD8) given to you by the registrar when the death was registered to the Department for Work and Pensions, who can deal with the pension or benefits of the deceased person
  • contact the local authority of the deceased person about council tax and any Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefit that was being paid
  • contact HM Revenue & Customs about any tax credits or Child Benefit

Your own benefits

If you were receiving Carer’s Allowance when the person you cared for died, this will usually continue to be paid for eight weeks from the Sunday after their death. If you were receiving a carer premium or addition as part of your Income Support or Pension Credit, this will also continue for eight weeks.

If you were 65 or over and entitled to Invalid Care Allowance (as Carer’s Allowance was previously called) on October 27 2002, you will be entitled to Carer’s Allowance indefinitely after the person you cared for has died.

You may need to claim other benefits once the eight-week period has ended. These might include one of the earnings-replacement benefits for carers, such as:

You might also be entitled to one or more top-up benefits or tax credits.

Bereavement benefits

You can claim certain benefits if you were looking after someone who has died. Bereavement benefits are not means tested, but they will be taken into account as income if you claim any other means-tested benefits.

Bereavement Payment

This is a one-off, tax-free payment of £2,000, which is paid on the death of your spouse or civil partner. It's only payable if you're under state pension age when your spouse died. Your spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contribution record will be taken into account, unless they died as a result of an injury or disease due to their work. You must claim this payment within 12 months of your spouse or civil partner’s death.

Bereavement Allowance

This is a regular taxable payment made if you were 45 years old or over when your spouse or civil partner died. It's payable for 52 weeks. The amount you're paid depends on your age when your spouse or civil partner died. It's only payable if you're under state pension age and the amount will be reduced if your spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contribution record was incomplete.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

This is a regular, taxable payment for people under pension age who have been bereaved and have dependent children (or who are pregnant, in the case of women). If your spouse or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions, the full rate is payable. If not, you'll receive a proportion of the allowance, unless they died of an injury or disease due to their work.

You cannot be paid Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance at the same time. A Bereavement Payment can be paid in addition to Widowed Parent's Allowance or Bereavement Allowance.

Claming a bereavement benefit

To claim a bereavement benefit, ask for the appropriate claim form from any Department for Work and Pensions or Jobcentre Plus office. You can also download a bereavement benefits claim form (PDF, 150kb).

After pension age

Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Allowance cannot be paid after you've reached state pension age. When you reach state pension age, if you haven't remarried or formed a civil partnership, you'll be entitled to a state pension, as long as your late spouse or civil partner paid their National Insurance contributions or died as a result of an injury or disease due to their work.

You could qualify for a pension based on both your own National Insurance contributions record and your spouse or civil partner’s record, if that would give you a higher state pension. For further details, contact the Pension Service on 0845 6060 265.

If someone you were caring for has died, watch the video below about two former carers or see the section on bereavement.

The official online source of government information on benefits is Gov.uk.

Bereavement: life after being a carer

When the person you've been caring for dies, there is support available to you. In this video, former carers discuss how they coped with their grief and found a new purpose in life.

Media last reviewed: 14/12/2012

Next review due: 14/12/2014

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jake68 said on 08 October 2013

hi I lost my husband to stomach cancer on the 7th september this year, I turned 45 on the 29th September 3 weeks later, I was told I do not qualify for bereavement payments for the year as I was not 45 at the time of his death, is there anywhere I can go to see if this can be changed, thanks j

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Page last reviewed: 12/03/2012

Next review due: 12/03/2014

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