Claiming benefits after a family bereavement

If you need financial help with the costs of a funeral, you can apply to the Social Fund for a Funeral Payment. You don't have to make a claim straight away, you can do it at any time up to three months after the actual funeral.

Changes to the Social Fund

Although the Social Fund is changing following the introduction of Universal Credit in some parts of the UK, the Funeral Payment will continue to be available to people claiming Universal Credit. It is likely that the payment will need to be paid back from your child's estate.

Qualifying for the Funeral Payment

You may be able to receive help with funeral costs if you or your partner currently receives any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element – from April 2015 to April 2016 this means a Child Tax Credit rate of £545 a year or more
  • Working Tax Credit, as long as it includes a disability element or a severe disability element.

If you're not claiming any of these benefits at the time of the funeral but start claiming them within the next three months, you can still apply for help with funeral costs. Make sure you do this as soon as you register for the benefits. If you wait until you actually receive them, you may have gone past the three-month limit for claiming funeral costs.

If you have an undecided benefit claim when you apply for a Funeral Payment, the Social Fund may wait for the decision on that claim before deciding whether to help you with funeral costs.

What kind of funeral will the Social Fund help with?

The Social Fund can only help with the cost of a funeral if:

  • it is taking place in the UK, or in certain circumstances a country elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • the child or young person who has died was living in the UK when they died
  • you have accepted responsibility for the funeral expenses
  • the local benefits office has agreed that it's reasonable for you to take responsibility for the expenses.

I am living in the UK but originally from another European country. Can I still make a claim?

In some cases, if you come from one of the countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) you may be entitled to apply to the Social Fund for help with a funeral in the UK. Contact CLIC Sargent's welfare advice service to find out if you are eligible.

What exactly can I claim for?

  • the cost of a new burial site
  • cemetery fees including a private grave digger’s fee
  • crematorium fees
  • the cost of a medical reference, medical practitioner’s certificate and removing any medical device
  • reasonable transport costs to the funeral director's premises or place of rest, if it's more than 50 miles away
  • reasonable costs for transporting the coffin, bearers and one additional car from the funeral director's premises or place of rest, to the funeral
  • travel costs for a return journey within the UK to arrange or attend the funeral
  • up to £700 for other funeral expenses, which can include the minister's fee. If these costs are already being paid by an existing funeral plan, you can only claim an extra £120 for any other funeral expenses
  • the cost of any documents needed to release money which could help with funeral expenses.

We can't give full details and exclusions here, so please don't take it for granted that you will get everything listed above. The Social Fund can only help with 'necessary' or 'reasonable' costs.

Many people find that the Funeral Payment doesn't cover all the costs of a funeral, or that it is reduced when grants and contributions from other people, charities and organisations are taken into account. It can also be reduced by the value of some of your child's estate (though not a home or any personal possessions they have left to relatives). It is important to remember that if you do receive a funeral payment, it may not cover all the funeral costs.

How do I make a claim?

To claim funeral costs from the Social Fund you need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus, which you can search for at www.gov.uk. You will be asked to fill out a form SF200 or to claim over the phone. You must claim within three months of the funeral.

If you live in Northern Ireland you will need to contact your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. You can also claim online by visiting the NI Direct website.

Reviewed: December 2015
Next planned review: December 2016

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