Already on Universal Credit
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, their Maximum UC amount (ie the Standard Allowance and Elements they are entitled to) 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.
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.