Single claimant has died
Where the claimant is single, their Universal Credit award will end from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period in which they died.
One member of a couple dies
If one member of a couple dies, the surviving partner will need to report the death to the Universal Credit helpline, via their UC journal or via the Tell Us Once Service.
3-month protection rule – if the couple were already on Universal Credit
The UC Regulations say that when a member of a couple dies, the award is to continue to be calculated as if the person had not died for the Assessment Period in which the death occurs and the following two Assessment Periods.
This means that the Standard Allowance included when the award is calculated will continue at the couple rate for the remainder of the Assessment Period in which the death occurred and for the next two Assessment Periods.
And any other Elements included when working out their maximum Universal Credit which related to the partner who has died, eg. the Limited Capability for Work Related Activity or the Carer Element (for the person caring for them) are also unaffected during this period.
If the partner had been allocated a separate bedroom under the size criteria because they were unable to share a bedroom, the extra bedroom will be allowed for the Assessment Period in which the partner died and for the two months following.
The DWP will take into account any changes in income.
Not already on Universal Credit
When one member of a couple dies, their surviving partner may need to make a claim for Universal Credit (the above protection will not apply)
The surviving partner might be eligible for Bereavement Support Payment on top of their UC (ie it is not taken into account as income when the claimant's UC award is calculated) – see below.
Work search requirements and the requirement to be available for work at the current time have been temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, the UC Regulations already include the following provision when a claimant’s partner dies:
if the surviving partner had some work search or work availability requirements in their Claimant Commitment (or would normally do on making the claim), these should be 'switched off' for 6 months.
Marcus and Helena are claiming Universal Credit as a couple. Their Monthly Assessment Periods run from 15th to 14th of each month. Marcus is very poorly and their joint Universal Credit award includes the LCWRA Element in respect of Marcus and the Carer Element because Helena is his carer; and there is no Bedroom Tax reduction for their second bedroom because they have to sleep separately due to Marcus' health problems. Sadly, on 30th April Marcus dies. Helena will need to notify the DWP. Her Universal Credit award should continue to include the couple rate Standard Allowance, the LCWRA Element, the Carer Element and no Bedroom Tax reduction for the Assessment Periods ending on 14th May, 14th June and 14th July. Helena will not be expected to look for or be available for 6 months following Marcus' death.
Death of a child
3-month protection rule
The UC Regulations say that when a dependent child or qualifying young person who was included in the Universal Credit award dies, the award is to continue to be calculated as if they had not died for the Assessment Period in which the death occurs and the following two Assessment Periods.
So, any elements which were included in respect of that child, eg. the Child Element, Disabled Child Element, Carer Element (if the claimant was caring for the child) and Child Care Costs Element will continue to be included for the Monthly Assessment Period during which the child died, and the following two MAPs.
The child who has died will also be included when calculating the number of bedrooms allowed under the size criteria for this period.
If the claimant had some work-related requirements in their Claimant Commitment, these should be 'switched off' for 6 months due to the bereavement.
Death of a non-dependant
If someone who lived in the claimant's household and counted as a 'non-dependant', they would be allocated a bedroom under the size criteria. If the non-dependant dies, that person still counts as needing a bedroom for the remainder of the claimant's Assessment Period during which the death occurs, plus the following two Assessment Periods.
Death of a severely disabled person/child that the claimant was looking after
If the claimant was getting the Carer Element included in their UC award, then if that severely disabled person/child dies, the claimant will still be entitled to the Carer Element for the Assessment Period during which the death occurs, plus the following two Assessment Periods.
Registering the death and the Tell Us Once service
When someone has died, their death will need to be registered.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, register offices are closed to the public and registration of the death is carried out over the phone.
The registrar can give the person who is registering the death details of how to contact the ‘Tell Us Once’ - click here
This means that the person only has to make one further phone call in order to notify all the benefits and other government departments (eg DVLA) of the death.
Funeral Expenses Payment
This can be claimed by a person whom the DWP consider it is reasonable that they should be responsible for the funeral (usually next of kin). The claimant must be on Universal Credit (other benefits count too).
More information on the gov.uk webite - click here
Bereavement Support Payment
If the surviving partner was married or in a civil partnership with the person who has died, they could be entitled to Bereavement Support Payment
If the surviving partner was not married or in a civil partnership with the person who has died, but they have dependent children, they should lodge a claim for Bereavement Support Payment. In February 2020, the High Court ruled that excluding cohabiting parents from entitlement is incompatible with human rights law. So, there could be a change in the regulations and if a claim has already been lodged, they could then receive an award.
Bereavement Support Payment is disregarded when Universal Credit is calculated, so it would be extra income as UC would not reduce when BSP is paid.
more information on the gov.yk website: click here
Child Benefit continues to be paid for 8 weeks after a child has died.