After death payments and benefits

The death of someone close can be doubly difficult to cope with. As well as the grief of the loss, there is the adjusting to life without them. Funerals can be expensive, and for someone receiving social welfare benefits, the cost of burying their loved one can almost be too much to bear. For this reason, the Department of Social and Family Affairs has some facilities for extra payments, one-off payments and continued payments, to ease the burden when a death occurs.

Social welfare payments after death

If your spouse/partner dies and he/she was in receipt of certain social welfare payments, you may continue to receive this payment for six weeks following the death - providing they included a payment for you.

Alternatively if you are getting a Retirement Pension, Old Age (contributory/non-contributory) Pension or Blind Pension and your spouse was receiving social welfare payments, you will be paid six weeks of whatever payment he/she was receiving plus your own payment.

If you are getting a social welfare payment that included a payment for your late spouse/partner, you will continue to receive the same rate of payment for six weeks after his/her death.

Payment for a child dependent will continue for six weeks after the death of the child.

If you are receiving a Carer’s Allowance or Benefit for looking after a spouse of partner, this Allowance/Benefit will cease from the date of his/her death. However, any social welfare payment that they were receiving will be paid to you at the married rate for 6 weeks after his/her death.

If you are married and you die, your husband or wife will be entitled to a Widow(er)’s Contributory Pension, providing the deceased person or the spouse has enough PRSI contributions. You automatically qualify if your late spouse was receiving either a Retirement Pension or an Old Age Contributory Pension, which included an increase for a dependant spouse. A Widow(er)’s Pension may also be payable if the death was due to an occupational injury or disease.

Applying for social welfare payments

It is very important that your local Social Welfare Office is told of the death of a Social Welfare pensioner or their qualified adult as soon as possible. If your pension is being paid by direct payment to a bank or building society account (electronic fund transfer), it is not sufficient simply to tell your bank or building society of the death. You must tell the Department of Social and Family Affairs also.

To apply for the six weeks payment, you should write to the relevant section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, enclosing the death certificate or death notice. For example, for someone receiving the Retirement Pension, this would be the Pension Payment Section.

For further information about after death payments, contact your local social welfare office, or the Department of Social and Family Affairs on 01-8748444.

Bereavement Grant

In the event of a death, you may be able to apply for a bereavement grant – a once-off payment of €635. The Grant is payable on the death of a person who has been receiving a contributory pension, or of his/her spouse or qualified dependants; on the death of a person who has been getting Orphan’s (Contributory) Allowance or of his/her guardian; or on the basis of certain PRSI contribution conditions.

You should apply for the Grant within 12 months of the date of death. Claim forms are available from any Social Welfare Office. The deceased person’s Death Certificate together with the funeral bill (or funeral bill receipt) is required with the claim. The Bereavement Grant is normally paid to the person responsible for the payment of the funeral bill.

For further information please contact 01-8748444, extension 8754 or 043-40054.

Exceptional/Urgent Needs

If you have little or no income after a bereavement and need assistance with funeral costs, you may be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment, available under the Health Service Executive’s Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. These payments are subject to a means test and each case is decided by a Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre. You won’t normally be eligible if you are in full-time work or education.

If death took place as a result of fire or other disaster, an Urgent Needs Payment may be made to help with immediate needs such as food, clothing etc. This may have to be paid back at a later date.

You should apply for these payments to your Community Welfare Officer.

Widowed Parents Grant

The Widowed Person’s Grant is a once-off payment of €2,700, made to widows or widowers with dependant children. The grant is available only to widows/widowers who have one or more dependant children living with them and who already qualify for one of the following payments:

  • Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Bereavement Grant payable on the death of their spouse
  • Death Benefit under the Occupational Injuries Scheme
  • A Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension from another EU state or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement.

For further information, contact the Widows Pension Section, Pension Services Office, Sligo. Their contact telephone numbers are Tel: 01-8748444 or Tel: 071-69800.

Reviewed: September 25, 2006