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Funeral Payments

Key information

A Funeral Payment is to help with funeral costs that you are responsible for.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age Rules: There are no specific age rules

Taxable: No

Which Agency: JobCentre Plus

 

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

The Social Fund is a government scheme to help people on a low income with emergency expenses.

You qualify for a Funeral Payment if you or your partner are getting any of the following benefits:

Some people who get Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit also qualify. If your partner dies, you may qualify for these benefits when you could not before.   

You will not be granted a Funeral Payment just because you are paying for a funeral. The benefits office has to agree that it is reasonable for you to be responsible for the funeral and that there is no one else who should be paying for it.

If you are claiming for the funeral of your child or partner, you can be paid a Funeral Payment as long as you meet the other qualifying conditions (see below). This applies to lesbian, gay and heterosexual partners. It also applies whether you were married, in a civil partnership or just living together.

If you are a close relative, family member or a friend of the person who has died, you may be able to get a Funeral Payment, but this will depend whether there are other relatives alive who are not on benefit. If there is someone closer or equally close to the person who has died who is not getting benefits, you cannot usually get a Funeral Payment. In this situation, the benefits office will also consider whether it is reasonable for you to accept responsibility for the funeral expenses. They will look at how well you knew the person who has died.

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How much does it pay?

There is no fixed sum for a Funeral Payment. It covers necessary burial or cremation fees, certain other expenses like the cost of a journey to arrange the funeral and up to £700 for other costs such as the funeral director's fees, the coffin or flowers. However, only up to £120 can be paid in total if the person who died had a pre-paid funeral plan.

If the Funeral Payment does not cover the full necessary costs of the funeral, you may be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan as well.

If the person who died had a pre-paid funeral plan, you will only get help for items not already covered by the plan.

The payment does not usually have to be repaid, however, if the person who died left money to you in their estate, this might have to be used to pay back the Funeral Payment.

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How do I make a claim?

In England and Wales, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service allows you to report a death to the DWP in a single phone call. This allows you to stop any DWP benefits the person who died was getting.

At the same time, the Bereavement Service can do a benefit check to find out if you can claim any benefits and take a claim for bereavement benefits or a Funeral Payment over the phone.

The contact details of the DWP Bereavement Service are:
Tel: 0845 606 0265
Textphone: 0845 606 0285
Tel: 0845 606 0275 (Welsh)
Textphone: 0845 606 0295 (Welsh).

If you want to make a claim for a Funeral Payment yourself:

Contact your local Jobcentre Plus Office (link opens in a new window) for a claim form

Download a claim form from the Department for Work and Pensions website (link opens in a new window)

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In Northern Ireland

There is a Bereavement Service in Northern Ireland which allows you to report the death of someone receiving Social Security benefits. They will then:

  • Record the date of death and notify each office that paid benefit to the deceased person
  • Offer you an eligibility check to see if you are eligible for any benefits. If you are eligible for bereavement benefits, the service can take the information for your application over the phone and forward this to the relevant office.

You can phone the service on 0800 085 2463. See the NI Direct website for more information on the Northern Ireland Bereavement Service (link opens in a new window)

Phone your local Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office (link opens in a new window) for a claim form

Download a claim form from the NI Direct website (link opens in a new window)

Tell us once service

Many local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland also provide a 'tell us once' service for bereaved people to report a death. See the Gov.UK website news item on Tell us Once for more information (link opens in a new window)

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What documents will I need?

You need to send in all the bills or invoices for the funeral costs. You also have to give information about financial circumstances, for instance, whether the person who has died had a pre-paid funeral plan. 

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Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your claim you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

See the Funeral Payments section in the Department for Work and Pensions Guide to the Social Fund (link opens in a new window) for more information.

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Last Updated: 10 February 2014

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