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Benefits and entitlements following a death

Information

After a bereavement you may need financial support. The Department of Social Protection provides certain once-off payments to help out families during this difficult time. Your local Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) deals with some of these payments.

You must have made a certain number of PRSI contributions to be eligible for some social welfare payments. You may be eligible for other payments, if you pass a means test or if you are in urgent need. Time limits apply for many payments, so apply as early as is possible.

You cannot be expected to do everything right away, but if the deceased was getting a social welfare payment or you were claiming for them as a dependant or you were getting a Carer's Allowance to look after them, it's important that you notify the Department of Social Protection within the first few days of the death.

Notifying the Department does not mean the payment will be taken back immediately. In many cases, the spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, parent or carer may continue to receive a payment for six weeks following the death.

Help with funeral costs

You can get help with the cost of the funeral.

The Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant is a once-off payment to widows/widowers/surviving civil partners with dependent children.This payment was formerly called the Widowed Parent Grant.

If someone dies from an accident at work, a Funeral Grant is available.

The Bereavement Grant was discontinued in 2014.

Whether you qualify or not for one of the above grants you may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment to help with funeral costs if you are on a low income. Each case is decided on its merits. Your Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) prefers if you apply before the funeral takes place, but in practice, most people apply afterwards.

In many cases a payment or a grant cannot be paid until all the necessary documentation is received. If you are claiming the grant, you are responsible for the production of certificates, documents and any information required, for example:

  • Death Certificate
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate (to prove your relationship to the deceased)
  • Funeral receipts
  • The deceased's Personal Public Service Number (PPS Number)
  • Your PPS number may also be required

Main payments

If you were living with or dependent on the deceased, any current benefits or payments you are getting may change, or you may be able to claim additional benefits. Depending on your income and circumstances you may be entitled to a social welfare payment in your own right, for example:

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension and related social welfare benefits may be payable if either you or your deceased spouse or civil partner has enough PRSI contributions. This payment was formerly called the Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension.

A Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension is paid to widowed people or surviving civil partners without dependent children, who do not qualify for a contributory pension and who pass a means test. This payment was formerly called the Widow's/Widower's (Non-Contributory) Pension.

A Guardian's payment is paid to the child's guardian up to the child's 18th birthday or 22nd birthday if he or she is in full-time education.

A One-Parent Family Payment can be paid to you if you are parenting alone as a result of the death of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. If you also qualify for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension you will have to choose which payment is of most benefit to you because you cannot get both.

If a person dies because of an accident at work or occupational disease, Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Scheme may be paid to their surviving spouse or civil partner.

Additional payments

Bereavement can cause financial difficulties. The Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme provides financial support to people with low incomes. You may qualify for a weekly supplement payment under the scheme to meet certain special needs, for example, help with rent/mortgage interest payments, special medical diets and fuel costs. In addition, payments can also be made for urgent or exceptional needs.

There are specific rules about taxation in the year of a person's death, for example, a tax refund may be due. There are also extra credits for parents in the years following the death of a spouse or civil partner. Find out more information about tax in the year of death and the years following a death.

Further information

To check your entitlements, contact your nearest social welfare local office or your nearest Citizens Information Centre. You can also phone the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000.

Read here for further information about support following a death.

Page updated: 13 January 2014

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.