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On this page, we explain the practical steps you might need to take following the death of a child, including offices you need to contact.
Using the Tell Us Once service should ensure that any benefits paid in your child’s name, such as Disability Living Allowance, will stop. Tell Us Once is not available in Northern Ireland. For information on who you need to contact in Northern Ireland visit nidirect.
However, as a parent you may also be receiving a number of other benefits in your name in respect of your child. These may either reduce or stop altogether as a result of your child passing away. Unfortunately, neither the Tell Us Once service nor the form provided by the registrar will result in a notification being made to those offices that are paying benefit to you, rather than to your child.
As a result, you will need to contact each of the offices paying you these benefits to tell them about your bereavement. We’ve outline who you need to contact below, and any time scales you need to be aware of.
These payments can continue to be paid for the first eight weeks after your child died. If your Tax Credits award includes help with childcare costs and these reduce following the death of your child, then make sure you also tell the Tax Credits office about the reduction in these costs.
You can contact the relevant offices on-line if you have a government gateway account or by phone.
If you or your partner were getting Carer’s Allowance for your child, this can also be paid for the first eight weeks before stopping. Carer’s Allowance will only run on for eight weeks if you were already eligible for it when your child died. If it had already stopped (for example, because your child was in residential care) this won’t apply.
Use the Tell Us Once Service to notify the Carer’s Allowance Unit of your child’s death or call 0800 587 0912 in Northern Ireland.
If you need to contact the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Unit yourself, (for example the Tell Us Once service is unavailable in your area or you don’t wish to use paperwork provided by your registrar), call 0800 121 4600 (0800 587 0912 in Northern Ireland).
If you were using your DLA mobility to lease or buy a car from the Motability Scheme, you will also need to contact them. You will be given the option of either buying the car outright or returning it. You can call them on 0300 456 4566. If you are getting a road tax exemption, then call 0300 790 6802.
If you were getting Income Support as a carer for your child, at the end of eight weeks you will no longer be treated as a carer and your Income Support may stop. Some parents will be able to carry on getting Income Support on other grounds, for example if you are a lone parent of a child aged under five.
If you or your partner are unfit to work (for example because of depression or stress caused by your bereavement), you may be able to get new-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on the basis of your health problems. However, this will depend on your national insurance contribution record. Alternatively you may be able to claim Universal Credit.
In order to claim new-style ESA or Universal Credit on the basis of ill health, you will need to get a medical certificate from your GP, known as a ‘fit note’. While having a fit note allows you to lodge a claim for benefit within a few months the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will also put you through their own medical assessment.
If you can’t claim stay on Income Support, don’t want to claim on the basis of ill-health and neither you or your partner are working, then after the eight weeks have passed you will need to consider signing on as available for work and either claiming contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (if you have sufficient national insurance contributions) or Universal Credit as a job seeker.
Please note that if you claim Universal Credit this will bring other means-tested benefits you receive (such as Housing Benefit or Tax Credits) to an end. Because of this you should seek advice before claiming Universal Credit, to check that you will not be left worse off.
Following the death of a child, your Housing Benefit will need to be re-assessed and, depending on your circumstances, you may start to get less help after eight weeks. If the death of your child leads to you being treated as needing fewer bedrooms under the size criteria rules, any cut in your Housing Benefit resulting from you being treated as having a ‘spare’ bedroom should be delayed for 12 months.
However, this only applies so long as you remain in the same property. If you are claiming Housing Benefit, or help with your council tax or rates, then contact the local authority office paying you this benefit straight away to avoid being overpaid benefit, which you may have to pay back.
The loss of your child may affect the amount of help you get towards Council Tax. This will depend on your own particular circumstances. Contact the local council office paying you this benefit straight away to avoid being overpaid benefit, which you may have to pay back.
If you are receiving Universal Credit, then the death of a child will impact on the amount that you receive. However, you continue to receive payments for your child, including any childcare costs, alongside any carer element for looking after them for a temporary period – this is for the remainder of the monthly assessment period in which they passed away, and for the following two months. Depending on your circumstances, the loss of your child may mean that you start to be expected to look for work, as part of continuing to claim Universal Credit. Seek further advice if this applies to you.
Unless you use the Tell Us Once service, you will also have to notify any other government departments providing services to your child. For example, this might include social services if you receive a package of support.
If your child was born was born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 then a Child Trust Fund account should have been opened for them. When a child with a Child Trust Fund account dies, the money in the account will pass to the person entitled to inherit the child’s estate. This is usually the parent(s). No notification is required.
You may not be told when any equipment that has been part of your child’s life will be taken away, for example, beds or equipment supplied by the NHS.
Parents have spoken about how distressing it can be when faced with an unexpected phone call or visit and said they felt they were not given enough time or respect to grieve before this happens. To help in this situation, contact any equipment suppliers and explain your situation. Try and negotiate a date or time that is best for you. Or you can ask someone else to do this on your behalf, so you can be prepared as far as possible.
Supports and advises people in the UK on the practical matters they need to do after a death, for example registering a death, arranging a funeral, legal procedures, money and tax issues Contact them on 0800 634 94 94 or visit www.bereavementadvice.org
Or in England and Wales visit www.gov.uk
In Scotland, the Scottish Government produce What to do after a death in Scotland, although this has not been updated since 2016. Find sources of bereavement support in Scotland at mygov.scot.
In Northern Ireland, see www.nidirect.gov.uk
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