General Information about Bereavement Payments


This topic explains the following:

  • an overview of when bereavement payments apply,
  • payment of amounts owing to recipients at the date of death, and
  • bereavement payments survivor in prison.


Each part in SSAct Chapter 2 includes a division about the application of the bereavement provisions to a specific payment.

SSAct Chapter 2 Pensions, benefits and allowances:

  • Part 2.2 Age pension - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.3 Disability support pension - Division 10-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.4 Wife pension - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.5 Carer payment - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.10 Parenting payment - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.11 Youth allowance - Division 10-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.11A Austudy payment - Division 10-Bereavement payments on death of partner
  • Part 2.12 Newstart allowance - Division 11-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.12A Mature age (pre- 1 July 1996) allowance - Division 11-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.12B Mature age (post 30 June 1996) allowance - Division 11-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.14 Sickness allowance - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.15 Special benefit - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.15A Partner allowance - Division 9-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.16 Special needs pensions - Division 10-Bereavement payments
  • Part 2.19 Carer allowance - Division 10-Bereavement payments (death of disabled child or adult)
  • Part 2.20 Double orphan pension - Division 10-Bereavement payments (death of DOP child)

Act reference: SSAct Chapter 2 Pensions, benefits and allowances

Overview of bereavement payments

Bereavement payments are made as a temporary continuation of a deceased person's income support payment. Bereavement payments MAY be paid following the death of an income support recipient, and sometimes dependants, to assist the survivor to adjust to the change in financial circumstances after the death. In the case of individuals, a bereavement payment is paid to the estate to assist with settling financial expenses incurred by the deceased prior to death.

Bereavement payments are generally paid in respect of:

  • an adult (in receipt of an income support payment in their own right), or
  • a child (where the parent was paid an income support payment or benefit in respect of the child (FTB child).

Act reference: FAAct section 22 When an individual is an FTB child of another individual

Policy reference: FA Guide FTB child, Death of an FTB or regular care child, Calculating FTB Bereavement Payment

Bereavement payments may, include:

  • payment up until the end of the entitlement period in which the person dies (MAY be paid to the estate of a single income support recipient), OR
  • payment of a LBP (MAY be paid to the surviving partner, parent or carer), and
  • entitlement to keep instalments paid during the bereavement period (MAY be paid to the surviving partner, parent or carer), and
  • assessment of the new single rate, if applicable, on the death of partner, and
  • continuation of entitlement during bereavement period.

Policy reference: SS Guide Bereavement Payment Provisions for Singles, Bereavement Payment Provisions for Couples, The Lump Sum Bereavement Payment - Member of a Couple, Death of PP child

Amounts owed at date of death

Income support recipients may have accrued some pension or benefit that is unpaid at the date of their death, or which would have been payable if they had not died. Any amounts like this can be paid to an appropriate person.

Example: An appropriate person can be the next of kin, solicitor or executor handling the estate, or the person who has paid or is liable to pay the funeral expenses.

A person seeking to be paid any residual pension or benefit must apply for the payment. The application must be made within 6 months of the recipient's death, except in special circumstances. Delegates have the discretion to determine what constitutes special circumstances, but the reasons for the delay in claiming would generally need to be unusual, uncommon or abnormal in the particular circumstances of the case.

This is quite separate to situations where Centrelink simultaneously learns of the death of BOTH members of a couple. In such a case a lump sum may be payable to an appropriate person without the need for a claim.

If a person lodges a claim for an income support payment but dies before payment is granted, the person may be regarded as a recipient of that payment provided they were qualified to receive the payment and would have received it if they had not died.

Policy reference: SS Guide Both Members of Couple Die during Bereavement Period

Bereavement payments to survivor in prison

Under section 1158 of the SSAct, bereavement payments are not payable while a person is in prison or undergoing psychiatric confinement because they have been charged with a crime.

IF the person in prison or psychiatric confinement has a partner or dependent child who is reliant on their income then the social security payments MAY be redirected to the partner or child. Redirection of the social security payments may be required as a last resort if no other suitable payment can be identified for the partner and child.

Act reference: SSAct section 1158 Some social security payments not payable during period in gaol or in psychiatric confinement following criminal charge, section 1159 Payment may be redirected to dependent partner or child

Last reviewed: 12 November 2012