If you're on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral you're arranging, you may be able to get a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. You might have to repay some or all of it from the estate of the person who died.
Who is eligible?
You may be able to get a Funeral Payment but it depends on the benefits you're getting, your relationship with the person who died and any other money, other than your personal savings, that may be available to help with the cost of the funeral.
Benefits and tax credits
You may be eligible for a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund if you or your partner are getting any of the following benefits or tax credits:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element
- Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element
The term 'partner' is used here to mean:
- a person you are married to, or person you live with as if you are married to them
- a civil partner, or person you live with as if you are civil partners
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Pension Credit
Relationship with the person who has died
To be able to get a Funeral Payment you must also be either:
- the partner of the deceased when they died
- the parent of the deceased child, or have been responsible for the deceased child (and there is no absent parent) (unless they are getting one of the above qualifying benefits or were estranged from the child at the date of death)
- the parent of a still-born child
- a close relative or close friend of the deceased (and it is reasonable for you to accept responsibility for the funeral costs)
Other money available
When how much help you can get is worked out, how much money (other than your personal savings) is available to help you with the cost of the funeral will also be looked at.
This could include money available from the estate of the person who died, contributions received and money from, for example, insurance policies. But this does not include the social security Bereavement Payment or money from certain government-funded trusts.
For UK residents and funerals
To be eligible, the funeral must usually take place in the UK providing the deceased was normally resident in the UK, or in the Republic of Ireland, providing the deceased was normally resident in Northern Ireland.
Who isn't eligible?
You can't get a payment as a close relative or close friend of the deceased if either:
- the deceased had a partner when they died
- there's a parent, son or daughter of the deceased who has not been awarded one of the qualifying benefits or was not estranged from the deceased - this doesn't include family members who are: aged under 18, qualifying young people for the purposes of Child Benefit, full-time students, members of religious orders, in prison or in hospital (and who had been awarded a qualifying benefit immediately before they entered prison or hospital), asylum seekers being supported by the National Asylum Support Service or family members not normally resident in the UK
- there's a close relative of the deceased, other than a close relative in one of the excluded groups listed above, who was in closer contact with the deceased than you were, or had equally close contact and is not getting a qualifying benefit
How much do you get?
A Funeral Payment includes the necessary burial or cremation fees. This includes the:
- cost of opening a new grave
- burial fees
- costs of the exclusive right of burial fee in the plot, which is often called the 'burial rights'
It also includes certain other specified expenses and up to £700 for any other funeral expenses, like the:
- funeral director's fees
- coffin or flowers
If the person who died had a pre-paid funeral plan, you'll only get help for items not already covered by the plan.
You can get full details of what the Funeral Payment covers on pages six and seven of the claim form (SF200) that you can download, below.
How Funeral Payments are paid
If the funeral director has not been paid, the money is paid to them.
If the funeral director has been paid, or if you didn’t use a funeral director, the payment will be made into a bank, building society or other account provider's account.
Effect on other benefits
There is no effect on other benefits from having a Funeral Payment.
How to claim
You can ask for a Funeral Payment claim form by contacting your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.
Or you can download the form. The form comes with notes to help you fill it in. Once you have completed the form please send or take it to your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office.
You can make a claim over the telephone by contacting the Bereavement Service.
When to claim
You must claim a Funeral Payment from the date of death and up to three months after the date of the funeral.
If you are waiting for a decision on a qualifying benefit or entitlement you must still claim within the time limits above.
You can make a claim before the funeral takes place if the funeral director is willing to produce an itemised invoice as evidence of a contract. An estimate is not acceptable.
Repayment of the Funeral Payment
If you get a Funeral Payment, it will have to be paid back from any estate of the person who died. The estate means any money, property and other things that the deceased person owned. A house or personal things that are left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner will not be counted as part of the estate.
Disputes and appeals
If you want to know more about the decision or you think it is wrong please contact your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office within one month of the date of the decision letter. If you contact your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office later they may not be able to help you.
You, or someone else who has the authority to act on your behalf can:
- ask for an explanation
- ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision
- ask your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office to look again at the decision to see if it can be changed, there may be some facts you think they have overlooked or you may have more information which affects the decision
- appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal - this must be in writing
You can do any of the actions listed above, or you can do all of them.