Benefits Expert: ‘Can any of us claim any financial help?’

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Q MY brother died recently without any life insurance, leaving the cost of his funeral to my mother and his siblings.

He had been on long-term sick and receiving various benefits.

Can any of us claim any financial help?

T (by email)

A THERE is no universal death grant these days, but there is a Funeral Payment that can be made in certain cases.

Whether or not a Funeral Payment is payable depends not upon the circumstances of the deceased, but upon those of the person responsible for the cost of the funeral.

To be eligible the person responsible must be receiving a means-tested benefit (such as Income Support or Pension Credit) called a “qualifying benefit”.

But there are other conditions which have to do with their relationship too, and how much contact they had with the deceased.

In the case of your late brother, for example, none of his relatives would be able to claim a Funeral Payment if his mother was NOT receiving a qualifying benefit.

If his mother was receiving a qualifying benefit she would still not necessarily be eligible. She would not be able to claim if another close relative not in receipt of a qualifying benefit had been in closer or equal contact with him.

Q I RECENTLY inherited £55,000 and my income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit were stopped because my capital now exceeds £16,000. How much a week would I be allowed to take out of my bank account without it affecting my claims for benefit in the future?

If I do not get a job I may have to claim benefit again and I would not want to be refused because I had wasted my money. Also, would I be allowed to buy furniture for my home?

Colin (East End).

A THERE are no hard and fast rules, just common sense.

If you have to reclaim benefit in the future the authorities may want to know how you spent your money.

If you cannot give a realistic explanation they may treat you as still having the money and deny you benefit.

If you buy things you need for the house this would be acceptable, but do not be extravagant and keep the receipts. The test is did you have good and sensible reasons for spending as you did.

If you did, you should have no problem.

Q A FRIEND of mine was born on January 6, 1951. Will he get a Winter Fuel Payment this year?

Bob (by email).

A Not this year I am afraid. If he had been born one day earlier he would have qualified.